Quantitative comparison of two National Weather Service snow models in the New York City reservoir watersheds
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Quantitative comparison of two National Weather Service snow models in the New York City reservoir watersheds

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    "The SNOW-17 model is utilized by the River Forecast Centers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/ National Weather Service (NWS) to estimate the snow water equivalent (SWE) of their forecast watersheds. The National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC) of the NWS utilizes the SNODAS model to create nationwide estimates of snow water equivalent as well as other snow pack parameters. This study compares output from these two NWS models with snow surveys conducted in the reservoir watersheds of Cannonsville, Pepacton, Neversink, Rondout, Schoharie, and Ashokan by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP). The time period used for this study is from 2004 through 2008 during the months of January through April. For this study, only the SWE estimates of the models and surveys are compared instead of snow depth, as the physical volume of water is more pertinent to the management of water levels in the reservoirs. The NYCDEP SWE data are compared on a basin wide level with SWE output from both models, and also a point basis with the grids developed by the SNODAS model. A linear regression analysis, the Mann-Whitney test and time trend analysis are all used to determine how the models compare to the survey data and if there is any seasonality or basin trends exhibited by the models. Results indicate that differences between the model and survey data are most likely a function of differences in survey location density and discrepancies in defined basin extent. It is still unclear whether lack of survey points at higher elevations has any direct effect on differences with model data. In the future, it is suggested that those basins whose RFC defined extent do not match the NYCDEP extent should modify or combine output from the separate basins to remain consistent when comparing SWE estimates with the NYCDEP"--Abstract.
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