It’s been a big topic of discussion throughout the historic three-day blizzard: how much water will come from the snow?
In short, a lot of that is dependent upon the temperature.
The first thing to remember is that warm air can hold more moisture than cold air. If meteorologists think there’s enough moisture in the air that if the snow fell as rain, it would equal one inch. If the temperature in the whole column of air was below freezing and nothing melted on the way down, meteorologists might forecast 10 inches of snow. That would then be a 10:1 ratio.
But it can get tricky.
If meteorologists think there’s the same amount of moisture to work within the example above, but the temperature was 5 degrees, the cold air would squeeze out more moisture from the clouds and we could end up with 18 inches of snow. That would be an 18:1 ratio.
The amount of moisture available never changed but we would get very different snow amounts.
So, the biggest takeaway is the amount of snow that falls is impacted greatly by the temperature. The extreme cold can give us huge amounts of snow but it’ll be a dry snow with little moisture, whereas a “warmer” spring storm will have snow with a much higher moisture content.
For this snowstorm, roughly 10 inches of snow equals one inch of rain, according to Meteorologist Amber Wheeler.
Minot, for example, which got the highest snow total at 36 inches, would get 3.6 inches of water from this snowstorm.
According to Chief Meteorologist Tom Schrader, this snow will melt slowly — meaning the water will also be able to soak into the ground slowly, something much-needed in this area, especially for ranchers and farmers.
Other moisture content ratios:
- Glenburn – 35 inches of snow: 3.5 inches of water
- Dickinson – 29 inches of snow: 2.9 inches of water
- Burlington – 26 inches of snow: 2.6 inches of water
- Sherwood – 23 inches of snow: 2.3 inches of water
- Harvey – 20 inches of snow: 2 inches of water
- Bismarck – 18 inches of snow: 1.8 inches of water