The top 5 features to look for in a snow depth measurement system

Measuring snow at ski resorts using snow measurement technology has become an integral part of resort operations over the last few years. Gone are the days of using yardsticks to measure snow depth. Today’s snow depth measurement systems can provide snow depth, mapping, speed, trends, and more, allowing resorts to more efficiently use their resources, time, and money.  With such a large range of products and prices on the market, what key factors continue to be considered when looking to purchase a new snow measurement system? In this article, we will review the top five features to look for when purchasing a new snow depth management system so that resorts get exactly what they are looking for. 


When purchasing a snow depth measurement system, it is important to find a system that is easy to use, has the simplicity to do what is needed, but not take a long time to figure out how to do it, and doesn’t have unnecessary complicated features. It’s important to understand what the main needs of the resort are. If the main focus is to measure the depth of the snow, find a system that focuses on snow depth. Key features to look for in a system are typically tracking of snow depth, area groomed, average speed, average area groomed per hour, and mapping. Additional features might sound interesting, but might be providing data that is never really going to be needed or used, and can overcomplicate the system. 


Measuring snow can become an expensive endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to look at how long it will take to pay back the snow depth system with the money resorts save by using it. On average, resorts save around 15% in operational costs by tracking snow depth and become more efficient with grooming and snowmaking. If ski resorts pay $100,000 or more for a system, this initial investment might not be worth the cost savings. However, if ski resorts consider snow depth systems that are less expensive and provide similar accuracy to the more expensive systems, the initial investment can justify the cost savings. The affordability and cost savings of a snow depth system can be highly dependent upon what the ski resort wants and needs to get out of the system. Some of the more expensive systems available offer a bundle of features with tons of data that may never be fully utilized. These system features can require a full-time employee to sort through all the data and ultimately cost the resort more money for features that go beyond the needs of the resort. Purchase what is needed and save money; instead of spending valuable funds on features that go beyond what is needed for improved efficiency.


What level of accuracy is needed from the snow depth system to be used? If resorts are measuring two-inch snow depths, then centimeter accuracy may be needed. But, if resorts are measuring between 12 inches to six feet plus of snow resorts and users may be happy with 4-inch accuracy. Compare the accuracy of different systems and how much that level of accuracy will cost. If centimeter grade accuracy may be needed, then resorts will pay more for that higher level of accuracy. But, if resorts are comfortable with 4-inch accuracy, then resorts can save a lot of money and still have a system that performs within the parameters needed.

World-class support

If resorts have a great system, but subpar support, then it won’t do users or the resort much good. When considering a snow depth system, it can be helpful to consider the following questions:

Does the company provide training for the system being purchased?

Purchasing a new system requires time and learning. Having an expert to teach and walk through the steps for success with a snow-depth system can be helpful and valuable for users.

Is 24-hour support offered?

Most grooming at resorts is done at night. If a problem arises with the system, having a reliable system support team available can help users resolve issues right away and save valuable time.

Can the system be customized?

Resorts and users needing a system that can be customized should ask if customization is available. Following this question, users should ask if the company requires a certain number of systems to be purchased for customization. Some systems are so big that companies won’t make changes for just one customer.

Is the snow depth system supported by the manufacturer?

Some companies outsource the design and manufacturing of the snow depth system. When this happens, and support is needed, the company must turn to a middleman. It can be especially helpful for resorts and users to purchase from a company the manufactures and sells the system. This can make it relatively easier for users to get the best support available.

Look for a snow depth system where all the components are built and serviced by the manufacturer. Ask if the persons selling the system works in the same building as the person supporting the system and the team that built it. This level of collaboration lends itself to world-class customer support.

Data users can act on

There’s no point in gathering data if it isn’t going to be used or understood. Look for a snow depth system that focuses on key data that is valuable and actionable. Some systems provide so much data that it can be overwhelming and unnecessary. Key data metrics to look for are snow depth, area groomed, average speed, average area groomed per hour, and mapping. This data allows users to make daily adjustments for maximum efficiency regarding snow distribution, route planning, schedules, and time needs accordingly. Resorts and users should look for a system that can actually help them make valuable changes, make smart, and efficient decisions so that the resort can run at its very best.

The complete package

Mesa, SnowGage, and Geode in the snow and mountains.

A snow depth measurement system that is easy to use, affordable, accurate, with world-class support, and data users can act on can be found at Juniper Systems. SnowGage by Juniper Systems provides ski resorts with the complete package for snow depth measurement. Ski resorts can measure snow depth, mapping, speed, trends, and more to improve efficiency in resources, time, and money with SnowGage. To learn more, contact us to find out what customizations, features, and benefits SnowGage can bring to users and resorts.

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