An enhanced technique for a more reliable daily snow measurements with an antifreeze-based tipping bucket gauge

TitleAn enhanced technique for a more reliable daily snow measurements with an antifreeze-based tipping bucket gauge
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2000
AuthorsCarcoana, R., and Enz J. W.
Conference Name68th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 68th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 2000
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationPort Angeles, Washington
KeywordsInstrumentation, Precipitation gauge, Snow instrumentation, Snow measurement, Tipping bucket

The record snowfall during the 1996-1997 winter season and subsequent spring flood stressed the need for a suitable method to measure daily snowfall at all 52 North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) stations. Our goal was to obtain accurate daily winter precipitation values from a remote automatic weather station. In November 1997, a system comprised of a Texas Electronics TE5253 rain gauge with a Campbell Scientific CS705 antifreeze based snow adapter, suitable for obtaining a reasonable estimate of the total seasonal precipitation (McCaughey and Fames, 1996), was installed at Fargo, North Dakota NDAWN station. Laboratory testing identified an antifreeze overflow restriction and a system support problem. We redesigned the shape of the overflow tube and added surfactant to the antifreeze mixture to diminish surface tension. We installed a weight support (tripod) and a side post to increase gauge stability in windy conditions and maintain a plumb position. The new system was tested during the second half of the 1997-98 winter, and the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 v.inter seasons. Comparative data for each snow precipitation event were recorded, collected and analyzed from three different sources: NWS Coop observer located about two miles E, a standard NWS universal Belfort weighing gauge, and the adjacent TE525/CS705 tipping bucket gauge/snow adapter at the Fargo, NDAWN station. The combination of the new overflow tube design, added surfactant and a reliable support system, enhanced the flow timing and provided more reliable daily totals.