SNOTEL is an automated system of snowpack and related climate sensors operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture in the Western United States.
There are over 600 SNOTEL (or snow telemetry) sites in 13 states, including Alaska. The sites are generally located in remote high-mountain watersheds where access is often difficult or restricted. Access for maintenance by the NRCS includes various modes from hiking and skiing to helicopters.
All SNOTEL sites measure snow water content, accumulated precipitation, and air temperature. Some sites also measure snow depth, soil moisture and temperature, wind speed, solar radiation, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. These data are used to forecast yearly water supplies, predict floods, and for general climate research.
Altså bruker SNOTEL systemer meteorer til å sende data tilbake til observasjonsstasjoner hundrevis av mil unna. Det er disse de bruker når de for eksempel sier at snømassen er 115 % over normal.
Meteorolog Joel Gratz forklarer dette i denne videoen.