John Wheeler: Why not forecast snowdrift height?
Such a forecast would be nearly impossible because wind over land is much more turbulent than wind over water.
FARGO — In coastal forecasts, average wave height is a useful tool, helping boaters to make decisions about boating safety. This begs the question: Why couldn't we do the same thing around here for snowdrifts? An average snowdrift height would be useful. However, such a forecast would be nearly impossible because wind over land is much more turbulent than wind over water.
Ocean waves are fairly simple because of the wide, flat sea. Wind velocity and ocean currents are about the only elements that affect sea wave height. Drifting snow certainly makes wave forms, but the shape and height of the waves are far from uniform. There are countless random elements that have an affect on drifting snow including trees and hills, structures built by humans and even the varying quality of the snow. Plus, all of these elements help make the wind more turbulent, which feeds back into the production of irregularly shaped drifts.