Research Team: Gennady Gienko, Rob Lang, Scott Hamel, Kurt Meehleis, Tommy Folan


In Alaska during the late 1970s, there was a major effort to predict snow loads across the state which would help civil and structural engineers design safer structures. The work was difficult and painstaking-each map was drawn by hand — and there was no standardized method for predicting loads adapted to Alaska. In addition, there wasn’t an abundance of available weather data, and engineers at the time were trying to use methodologies and formulas developed for the Lower 48 to predict snow loads in Alaska.

To create accurate, probability-based snow load predictions, engineers require both a long record of measured snow-depths and the average snow density for each depth. In the late ’70s engineers tried their best to create this data and establish a standard estimate, which was used to predict snow loads from Southeast to the North Slope.

This report presents the results of a statistical analysis of snow cover in Alaska using historical data acquired from the Global Historical Climate Network. Measurements of snow depth and snow water equivalence were collected for Alaska stations between 1950 and 2017. Data cleaning and a distribution analysis were completed for all stations. Finally regression equations were developed to estimate snow water equivalence using recorded snow depth data from Alaska stations. The project is partially supported by ConocoPhillips Arctic Science and Engineering Foundation, UAA, and the Structural Engineers Association of Alaska (SEAAK).

Map of Alaska depicting the location of 341 SNWD stations and 49 WESD stations.


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