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National Water and Climate Center


Snow Survey Sampling Guide

For Special Conditions - Tubes Too Short for Depth of Snow

Snow Depth Greater than Tube Length

If the depth of snow is greater than the length of tubing at hand, do the following:

  1. Drive the tube its full length into the snow.
  2. Place a handkerchief or similar object over the top of the tube.
  3. Dig down around the tube to a depth of about 1 foot.
  4. Stand on tube and force it down farther.
  5. Remove the wadding and observe the depth of the core. When the core reaches the top of the tube, you have reached the limit for this method of measurement.

The depth of the snow is the distance from the snow surface to the top of the tube added to the length of the tube.

If the snow is too deep to get a whole sample by this method, then do the following:

  1. Dig a hole in the snow at the sampling point to a depth of 2 to 3 feet. Try sampler in bottom of hole. If you have not reached the ground surface, dig deeper. Use ski heel or tip of snow-shoe for a shovel if nothing else is available.
  2. Slide a metal plate or firm, flat object (aluminum notebook cover) into side of pit at a depth below the top of the grounded sampler.
  3. Drive sampler down to metal plate.
  4. Measure snow depth and core length of the first section of snowpack.
  5. Break off snow into pit down to metal plate.
  6. Weigh and record weight of tube and core and weight of empty tube. (See sample note below)
  7. Sample from metal plate down to the ground surface. Weigh and add depths and water contents for that sampling point. (See sample note below).
  8. Be sure to fill the hole if the course is to be sampled at a later date. Make a note to bring additional sections of sampler tubing for future surveys.
Notes for Samples Taken in Sections