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Interpereting Snow Course Data

From NRCS, Nov 1995. Modified Nov 2011

The following is an explanation of each column in snow course data text files.

Columns 1-2: State ID in FIPS code (differs from NCDC code)

Columns 3-7: Station ID number

Column 8: Blank or S. Blank is SNOTEL site, S is a "created" quasi-SNOTEL site

Column 10: Type of reading:

  1. Near month end
  2. Near mid-month
  3. Special reading (not many of these)

Column 14-15: Water year (NOT calendar year)

Column 16 onward: Multiple sets of 10-character groups, repeated as often as necessary

Each 10-character group consists of:
1-3: Date: (month, as a single alphanumerical character; day of month)
Month: October = O "Oh"
November = J
December = K
Jan-Sept = the number of the month
4-6: Depth in whole inches
7-10: Snow water equivalent in tenths of inches

General Remarks:

  • Blanks indicate no data.
  • The first 10-character observation is for a date near January 1.
  • The second 10-character observation is for a date near February 1.
  • The third is for a date near March 1, the 4th near April 1, etc.
  • If no observation, the 10-characters for that approximate date are held blank with "spacers".

Special circumstances:

  • Some stations have 3 characters from 11-13 as dummy numbers, followed by Water Year, then 2 more dummy numbers.
  • Some stations have been estimated from snow pillows (S in column 8).
  • Some dates are given as EST. When EST is used, the months start at Jan and go thru about Jun. These stations may have dummy characters.
  • Some stations are aerial courses. These may have the 10-character positions zero-filled.

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