Tuesday, October 11, 2016

If Hurricane Matthew Rain Was Snow, How Much Snow Would You Have?

13.6 trillion gallons of water fell on the 5 state region (Florida, Georgia, North/South Carolina and Virginia) from Hurricane Matthew. This amounts to only 1% of the total rainfall across the continental United States this year. Hat tip: Ryan Maue

Rainfall through early October
It's very hard to wrap our minds around what a trillion gallons of anything looks like. But what if this water was lake effect snow?  How much would it amount to?  How much snow would cover the entire state of Ohio?

Here is how you would calculate this:

Ohio covers 44,852 square miles. This is roughly 1,250,400,000,000 square feet

Convert 14 trillion gallons of water to cubic feet gives us 1,818,055,555,556 cubic feet

Divide the two and convert to inches yields roughly 17 inches of water over the entire state of Ohio.

In order to convert the water to snowfall, we need the snow ratio.  That is the amount of snow per one inch of liquid. The problem is lake effect snow can have a ratio from 20 to 1 to almost 40 to 1 depending a variety of factors.  So let's take the lower conservative end:  20 to 1.

This gives us......drum roll please...

28 feet of lake effect snow over the the entire state of Ohio


David Said said...

On average 1 inch of rain equals 13 inches of snow so multiply that number by how many inches of rain fell from Hurricane Matthew.

Scott Sabol said...

Unfortunately, the 13:1 snow ratio is not a set ratio. It changes depending on the conditions. Read my post for the specifics