What volume of snow yields one gallon of water?

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Linda Rose, Run 3 Unblocked

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vasizbtz, Water

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If the snowfall amounts were translated into equivalent volumes of water - then how much water would that be? Using a rule of thumb that each 10 inches of snow, if melted, would produce one inch of water, then each inch of snow produces about 2,715 gallons of water per acre. Of course, the actual amount can vary considerably depending on whether the snow is heavy and wet or powdery and dry, so this is based on the 'average' water content of snow. Heavy, wet snow has a very high water content and 4 or 5 inches of heavy, wet snow can contain about one inch of water, while it may take 20 inches of dry, powdery snow to equal one inch of water. The 10=1 equation also assumes a 'perfect' snowmelt without evaporation or other losses. So how many gallons of water would that be for, say, Chicago?

An inch of snow that falls evenly over the 1,358,599 acres of the 'urbanized area' (acreage based on 2000 Census Bureau list of urbanized areas) of Chicago, Ill., is equivalent to about 3,689 million gallons of water (or 3.69 billion gallons). The snowpack that accumulates each year in the mountains across the country are a vital part of the hydrologic cycle, according to USGS hydrologists. The snows that melt off each spring provide essential runoff to streams and reservoirs and provide recharge to the nation's ground-water reservoirs as the ground thaws and the snows melt and filter downward into the aquifers (water-bearing rock formations). superfighters

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Choi Minzi, volume of snow

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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.

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Brian Monetti, Science is Awesome!

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The density of snow varies greatly depending on many factors, including how fresh it is, how wet it is, and how quickly it falls. Very light powdery snow can be as little as 5% as dense as water, but very dense hard pack (like the packed base on a ski slope) can be as much as 80% as dense as water. This chart compares the densities of several types of snow: http://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/Contexts/Icy-Ecosystems/Looking-closer/Snow-and-ice-density

You can even test this yourself! Fill up a container such as a measuring cup with snow, and let it melt inside. You can then measure the leftover water to see how dense the original snow was. Have fun!

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