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60 years of snowfall, visualized

60 years of snowfall, visualized

Matthew Parrilla created this beautiful data visualization that compares the snow depth on Mt. Manfield, the highest mountain in Vermont, against the historical record. The graph itself looks like a mountain, with inches of snow piling up over the course of the year and then melting away in the spring. You can visit Parrilla’s site to play with the interactive version.

The snow on Mt. Mansfield has long been an important data point for skiers. In the 1950s, the Burlington TV station WCAX drove stake into the mountain at around 4,000 feet above sea level, below the mountain peak at 4,393 feet. Everyday at around 4 p.m. a staff person at the WCAX transmitter station on the mountain takes a reading on the amount of snow or rain with a gauge and ruler to send to the National Weather service. Parrilla’s visualization uses this fabled stake to track 60 years of snowfall, for each winter season from September to June.

The snow this year is heavier than average: As of Feb. 8, the mountain had 76 inches of snow at the stake, more than the 57 average inches at this time of year. Only nine winters since 1955 had more snow as of Feb. 8. The highest snowfall happened in 1969, when snows reached more than 140 inches in April.

Image republished courtesy of Matthew Parrilla.

Ana Swanson | February 20, 2015 at 10:36 am
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