In the last 24hrs most of the south has been inundated with snow, for most Christmas came late. As I sat watching the snowfall, my phone rang. It was the storm shelter guy. We were discussing installation of the new storm shelter, but due to natures timing of snow and rain. We will be waiting for some sunny days, since I live in the black land prairie region of Texas. When my wife and I first moved to north Texas here in 2010, I was warned about the benefits and negatives of living with black land. That in mind we decided to postpone the installation of the storm shelter. Its better not to get a dozer stuck in this mud with it snowing.

As we talked about the snow, he was concerned about the skiffs of snow amounting to nothing. He has a property to the east of me and his pond is bone dry. I started to think about the moisture content of snow. Well how much moisture can you really get from snow? How much snow do I need to make 1” of water.

Every year the USDA measures snowpack with a federal snow sampling tube set. The tube helps determine amount of water or” water snow equivalent”. The measurements are then compared to the median of other sites for that region. When you hear snowpack is at 80%, its being compared to the historical mean. Lower the number the less available water for the region.

This Texas drought has put pond owners in a nervous state, praying for any amount of moisture. Now, it’s been snowing for at least 10 hours and outside my door is 3” of snow. As a kid growing up in western Colorado, my brothers and I would have snowball fights. We knew that if the snow felt heavy it was a great snowball, but if it felt light and fluffy it would be great for making snow angels. What we were feeling was the amount of precipitation in the snow. So my wife and I decided to test it out, Riley (my daughter) in tow, our snowballs fell apart immediately it was to dry. What I had learned as a kid about wet snow for snowballs was confirmed when we my daughter couldn’t make a snowball from our very light snow.

Dry snow or wet snow zones are determined by your geographical location. The closer you are to a more moist climate will result in wetter snow; the prairie regions get drier snow. This is a general rule of thumb but can change from year to year. So how much water did I get from this snow event? A simple trick to see how much precipitation in the snow; take a saucepan, put 10” of snow in a saucepan and leave at room temperature. (Note: 10 units of snow is equivalent to 1 unit of water)

So how much did you get?