Methods of estimating liquid water storage in snowpacks

TitleMethods of estimating liquid water storage in snowpacks
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1987
AuthorsKattelmann, R.
Conference Name55th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 55th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1987
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationVancouver, British Columbia
KeywordsLiquid water, Snowmelt lysimeter, Snowpack water retention

Most streamflow forecasting procedures account for liquid water storage in the snowpack. More than a dozen methods of estimating this quantity have been developed. This paper evaluates and compares these known techniques both in terms of theory and application. The paper also compares estimates of snowpack water retention obtained from these various methods to change-in-density measurements, snowmelt lysimeter lag times, and response of small streams in the Donner Summit area of California. Measurements at the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory indicated that layers of fresh snow usually retained less than five percent liquid water by volume under conditions experienced over three winters. The response of snowmelt lysimeters to rain-on-deep-snow events indicated there are only a few hours of delay between the onset of rain and snowpack outflow. Similarly, small streams began to rise within a few hours of the beginning of rainfall.