Sydenham House

Owen Sound, ON 

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Snow Gauge (beta)

Snow Data Acquisition:  This is, perhaps, the only autonomous real-time snow gauge currently operating on the internet. It employs a Linksys WVC200 network camera pointed at a length of 2½-inch PVC pipe painted fluorescent orange. The pipe is held upright by an outdoor umbrella stand with its sleeve painted orange to match the PVC pipe.

To facilitate the recording of data at night, a length of LED rope lights runs down the side of the pole. It is held about four inches out from it by a combination of plumbing fixtures and improvised standoffs. The lights are secured to an aluminum yardstick by wire ties. This maintains the lights in a straight line, blocks the glare of the lights from the camera, and acts as a means of visually verifying snow depth.

An image of the pipe is recorded every ten minutes and processed by RoboRealm software, which is designed to provide vision capabilities for robots. Each image is filtered in the software so that only the florescent orange part of the image is visible (see bottom images at right). The software then draws a line from the top of the fluorescent area to its bottom, and measures the length. This value is processed by an algorithm written in VBScript that translates image pixel data to real-world snow depth in centimeters. The data is written to a CSV file and used by Image Salsa weather image processing software, and another VBScript program, to import and compose the overlays on the weather image at the top of this page. Data is accurate to within 2.5 cm (one inch).

The time-stamped image above represents the latest good data recorded by the snow gauge. To be considered good data, the same value must result from two consecutive image reads ten minutes apart. The numbers in the top-right of the image represent (in pixels) 1) the length of the visible pole; 2) the distance from the bottom of the image to the bottom of the visible pole (also shown as the green dot); and, 3) the distance from the bottom of the image to the top of the visible pole.



The pole stands about 10 feet from the camera. 



Season Summary December 10, 2013: Looking forward to a successful data collection season from my vantage point in Holmes Beach, FL. Snowfall, 2012
Season Summary April 12, 2012: The winter that never was… record-setting high temperatures, negligible amounts of snow, and patchy gauge operation all conspired to yield relatively few readings this year. Maybe next winter we’ll have better luck. Snowfall, 2012
Season Summary March 27, 2011: More snow than the previous year; larger, more pronounced snowfalls. 33,000 data points with an 82% good read rate. Snowfall, 2011

Season Summary March 14, 2010: Not much snow this winter, but the gauge performed flawlessly, producing nearly 30,000 data points with an 86 percent good-read-rate.

Snowfall, 2010

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