United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
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National Water and Climate Center


Google Earth SNOTEL Data Layer

View real-time daily snow and precipitation data from the NRCS SNOTEL network in the rich 3-dimensional visual context of Google Earth.  (View in Google Maps)

Introducing a new high resolution interactive interface to SNOTEL snowpack and precipitation information. Opening the data layer below in the Google Earth application opens a window to the data that allows you to have a birds-eye view of the Western US, while zooming in to individual basins and stations of interest.

Quick Start Guide:

1) Google Earth is an application requiring a fast internet connection and a modern computer. Be sure to check if your system matches the requirements outlined by Google.

2) Download and install the Google Earth application. Familiarize yourself with the interface by viewing the Google Earth Guide. If you have any problems so far, the Google Earth Support webpage is full of useful information. Do note that alternatives to Google Earth exist, such as NASA's WorldWind and ESRI's ArcExplorer, both of which are free.

3) Load a SNOTEL ".kmz" data file from the links directly below. The file on the left displays the station name on the map which is good for fine scale analysis. For a broader view of conditions, viewing the data without labels (the file on the right) may be preferable. The application may automatically launch on opening a ".kmz" file.

SNOTEL Data (with labels)

SNOTEL Data (without labels)

4) Browse around or zoom into your basin of interest. Click individual sites for more info, both on the map and in the "Places" frame on the left. Use the "Places" frame to find a specific station, organized by state.

5) Any day you use this application, come to this webpage and click on the above links to the data files.  Important!  If you save the ".kmz" file locally to your computer, it will only contain the data from the day you acquired it and will not automatically refresh. To ensure you have the latest data, always come back to this webpage.

A Note About Precision:

At very fine resolutions, the location of the marker on this map may not match the exact location of the SNOTEL site. The marker is placed at the center of a 0.01 by 0.01 degree box, outlined in gray. This approximately 500 acre buffer contains the true location of the site. If you have an application that requires a higher level of accuracy, please contact the content manager of this page.

More Information:

These files are updated daily around 7:30 am and 12:30 afternoon Pacific Time with midnight summaries of the previous day's data. The symbols are color-coded by the current snow water equivalent as percent of the 1971-2000 normal on this date.

Clicking on a symbol will reveal additional information, including a photo of the site, more real-time data and links to charts and additional reports.

In the file with labels, the stations are organized in the "Places" tab by state. Click on the check box to turn on or off the viewing of individual sites or entire states. The top folder also allows the addition (or removal) of the NRCS logo and legend.

Screenshot of "Places" tab


Additional Google Earth Data:

NRCS Water Supply Forecasts layer.
Snow and precipitation data from the NWS NOHRSC web site.

If you find this product useful or have any suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact us!

Content Manager:

Cara McCarthy