About Us > History

Snow Survey Centennial: 1906-2006

"In 1906 I offered to climb Mount Rose every month for a year to obtain temperatures on mountaintops. The United States Weather Bureau furnished the thermometers, the Adams Fund was available for research in agriculture, and the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station was willing. The Study of snow was begun."

- Dr. James E. Church, The Snow Surveyors' Forum, Western Snow Conference, 1952.

The Mt. Rose snow sampler and scale were developed and patented by Dr. Church in the winter of 1908-09 to determine the water equivalent of the snow deposited on the ground. In the spring of 1910, Dr. Church produced a forecast of the Lake Tahoe rise, the first recorded water supply forecast in the western United States.

The Federal government entered the snow survey picture on July 1, 1935, by an Act of Congress. The goal was to coordinate and expand the system of snow surveys for water supply forecasting to all of the western states. The techniques developed by Dr. Church and others were the beginning of the current NRCS Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program that is carried out by NRCS field personnel.

In 2006, the Program celebrated the 100th anniversary of that first snow survey on Mt. Rose. Here's a collection of articles which commemorate highlights from the last century.