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Measuring Snowfall

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by vamootsman, Jan 9, 2010.

  1. vamootsman

    vamootsman Senior Member
    Messages: 316

    Did 1/2 a dozen searches and not much came up that wasn't older than my kids.
    Have read about using a tape measure, referencing local TV stations, using NWS, and so on. What's the most equitable way to guage (measure) the snowfall for a one time push?

    i.e. We pushed our big lot, it took 1-2 hours per truck longer than than either of the last 2 big "storms". The snow as measured with a tape said a little over 5". Well, with all fo the salt residue left over, and the daytime temps helping to melt things into a layer"" of slush under the snow, I know that more than 5" fell. The NWS says 6.6". Which is way closer to what I measured on the the table in my backyard that didn't have a coating of salt on it before the storm. That fluffy easy to push stuff on the top got pretty darn heavy after turning over the rows a few times mixing the slush in as we're going.

    Would you guys bill at 5", or the 6.6"? My tiered per push pricing goes up at anything over 6", so it's an important question to me both ethically and financially, as I had to pay my subs more for the extra time on the lot.
  2. pohouse

    pohouse Senior Member
    Messages: 322

    I would bill for 6.5 Can't argue with NWS. I'm always puzzled by the tape measure method. And snow accumulations can vary within a few miles. I also use local news totals after the storm.
  3. NootDogg

    NootDogg Senior Member
    from WI
    Messages: 113

    I would go off of the NWS. Then that way if any of your customers see that then you are covered.
  4. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,780

    Don't short yourself. I can tell by your post that you know the answer and want to be sure you are not being unfair. You're not. Charge for the full amount.
  5. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    Pay the money for certified snow totals, many "pro" weather services offer this service for a fair price, one NJ company is like 300 bucks for the season if all you get is totals, gets more expensive as add services. We get email,text,fax alerts and updates and calls when accumulations begin in towns we service sites in, this runs us about 1500 year, but we use them year round for the landscape side of the business too, only an extra 200 bucks after the 12 month discount. Anyway, certified totals from a 3rd party are hard to dispute and customers seem to challenge it less.
  6. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    It is a no win. Sometimes news outlets back up our meaurements, sometimes not. The NWS had a cool map of totals around our area. It was up for a day and gone. Some outlets report what is measure after it is over and has settled, which is why we measure exactly what we are plowing when we arrive. Other clear an area and meaure what falls every hour and clear it again.

    Weather feeds on the hype of what is coming and not so much what just happened. It is apparent that this need for snow total documentation is not being met overall.
  7. syzer

    syzer Member
    Messages: 95

    Ditto! We use weatherworks, sounds like you do to
  8. mtk469

    mtk469 Member
    Messages: 57

    We look at Noaa and NWS and check the zip codes we worked. Then make the determination from there. We also measure on site when filling out our log sheets.
  9. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    Syzer, Yes we use Weatherworks, I've also used ION, but I ike Weatherworks better.
  10. vamootsman

    vamootsman Senior Member
    Messages: 316

    Thanks for the input guys. The place that NWS gets their measurment from is about 2 miles from the site. The NWS measure comes from an airport only about 2 miles away, so I'll finish the season using their numbers and look into the 3rd party for next year (didn't know such a thing existed til now). Thanks again.
  11. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    In reality you are getting almost the same thing, FREE !! you just have to go looking for it. I'd venture to say most of the reading locations my weather company uses are closer than 2 miles my sites, and 2 miles can make a difference believe me. But if you're not a big operation and the expense is unjustifiable, you're already getting 3rd party reports from NOAA, the real key is the 3rd party part, not just your guys with a tape. Only question is are the totals from NOAA certified? or are they just called "observed totals", might make a difference to some clients when it comes to collections. Last thought, many of the weather companies offer free trials, may be worth a little time finding a local company and seeing if they run a trial so you can see what it's actually like during the season before jumping in and paying for it.

    D DRUMS LLC Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    I to use the 6". Bill for the more amount some times it going to take a little longer if its wet. Then next time it may be light and fluffy.it all balances out in the end
  13. ford550

    ford550 Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    We use WeatherWorks. I used to use Accuweather and the NWS, but because they only take the snow depth at the Airport, that was no good for my accounts that are 15-25 miles away, as most of you know the weather can be very different. For us its worth every penny because all our large accounts are per inch (per storm), so it's crucial to be accurate for that exact area.
  14. tinffx

    tinffx Member
    Messages: 68

    I would use a weatherworks like system or the NWS totals. They break them out pretty detailed & its usually easy to find a very local measurement.
    I believe technically snow totals are measured every 6 hours - cleared after each measurement to prevent skewed measurements from excessive compaction. take 3 measurements each time and average them.

    But if you are doing it yourself, your method isn't really going to matter. Its still going to have to rely on your customer's trust.
  15. Turnerlandscape

    Turnerlandscape Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    I have always just measured by hand in an area with no salt presence. A pathway in the grass, and my driveway. the readings are always very close. I have never had a complaint. ( I have always charged by inches. 1-5 6-10 11-14.) you work hard and bust your ass every storm and all your customers know that. if they ***** and moan that you charged for six and they think it was five, then you dont need them. Let the low baller jerk do a crappy job for them. Like I said I have had happy customers for years measuring by hand. and 98 percent of the time I am right on with the local news anyway... and its free and instant to check for yourself
  16. ford550

    ford550 Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    That's great for residentials, but for commercials that want certified totals (like all mine do), you need to go with a paid company that will certify.
  17. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 27,859

    I measured my finger.

    When I get to the lot, I stick my finger in the snow.

    Where the snow depth is on my finger, that's what the customer gets charged.

    Last week we had 3" of snow, but 30-40 mph winds.

    Most lots had 1" since most everything else blew away.

    They were charged for 1".