Professor Tim Garrett and Cale Fallgatter, from the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the University of Utah, are working with Alta Ski Area to photograph snowflakes at a study plot in the Collins Gulch area. Snowflake size and shape affect snowpack density and are important factors for making accurate weather forecasts. Unfortunately, snowflakes are notoriously delicate, and this has made it difficult to photograph them in a systematic way. In fact, weather forecasts today rely on snowflake research done painstakingly by hand in the early 1970's. The high-speed camera in Collins Gulch is automatically photographing snowflakes while they are in free-fall. By relating snowflake types to local meteorology, the aim is to improve forecasts of local weather and snowpack.
This project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The Center for Snow Science at Alta and NoHow Inc. are supplying field support.