The NRCS SNOTEL network consists of over 600 SNOTEL stations across the mountainous areas of the western United States. This network provides valuable snow depth, snow water equivalent, and temperature data for high elevation sites. Many stations are in remote areas, and cannot be accessed during the winter time. This information is essential to forecasting snow melt runoff which is the largest contributor to river flows in the western United States. SNOTEL data is transmitted using meteor burst telemetry, which uses the billions of sand sized particles that burn up in the 50 to 80 mile high region of the atmosphere to relay radio signals back to earth. This technique allows for communication between sites that are up to 1200 miles away from each other. Typically, 90 to 95 percent of all SNOTEL sites report data within an hour of being polled. Originally SNOTEL sites were usually polled once a day during the winter and spring months. Now, many of the sites are transmitting hourly data.
SNOTEL data is available on the Internet in different formats. Maps or numerical tables can be found on the following sites:
U of Wyoming