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Q & A: What is the water equivalent of snow?

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Most recent answer: 02/15/2010
Q:
if you have a five gallon bucket full of snow, how much water would you have in the bucket when it melts? inches,gallons? How is water equivalent to snow?
- Matti (age 10)
dallas,texas,usa
A:
Some snow is light and fluffy and makes terrible snow balls.  Other kind of snow feels heavy and sort of mushy.  This kind of snow packs well and makes excellent snowballs.   The reason is that different weather conditions produce different kinds of snow with different water content.  The more water content, the denser it is and higher water equivalent.  You can easily measure it yourself by getting a can full of snow (don't pack it down too hard) and take it inside the house.  After the snow melts measure the height of the water left in the can and compare it to the height of the can.  This is the water equivalent.  A ratio of 1 to 10 is typical but can vary by a factor of two either way. 

LeeH

(published on 02/15/2010)

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