Snowfall water equivalent comparison of eight inch standard gauge versus heated tipping bucket
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Snowfall water equivalent comparison of eight inch standard gauge versus heated tipping bucket

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    On the morning of March 16, 1990, Station A reported a 24-hour precipitation amount of .01. For the same time frame, Station B logged .73 with nine inches of new snow. Station A and Station B are only one mile apart, and neither has a shielded precipitation gauge. The primary difference between the stations is, Station A is an AMOS (Automatic Meteorological Observation System) site equipped with a heated tipping bucket precipitation gauge, and Station B is a National Weather Service (NWS) co-op station equipped with a standard eight inch gauge. The scenario mentioned above was extreme. In comparing the gauges, there were days when precipitation amounts from the eight inch gauges and the heated tipping bucket (HTB) type gauges were the same, or even a little higher at the HTB site. Nonetheless, over the winter and summer periods studied, the inability of the HTB to accurately melt and record water equivalent of snowfall was evident. In this study, two different locations were used to compare the HTB and Standard gauges. The example used above was data from Devils Lake, which is located in northeastern North Dakota. The other site used was Lidgerwood, located in southeastern North Dakota. At Lidgerwood, the HTB gauge is part of a RAMOS (Remote Automatic Meteorological Observation System). None of the gauges had wind shielding. This study includes precipitation recorded from June 1984 to March 1990. Two periods were taken into consideration; November through March and June through August. This was done to separate the data into a summer grouping and a winter grouping. That way it could be determined if the differences between amounts received were due to gauge types alone or if the type of precipitation normally encountered during the separate periods caused the difference. This amounts to six warm and six cold seasons worth of data.
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