Getting Started

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Using SnowPilot for the first time?

SnowPilot is open-source, free software that allows users to graph, record and database snowpit information. After creating a pit a user can print a jpg or png or download the data in xml or CAAML format.  This data is automatically saved onto a secure database where researchers can analyze it. All snowpits get saved in the database and individual users can choose who can view their pits.

Watch a 10-minute video tutorial.

...or use these quick start instructions. If you have any problems, drop us a line at

Sign Up

  1. In order to create a snowpit you must sign up and set your preferences.

Snowpit Preferences

  1. Set your default State/Province/Country and maybe even Range or Advisory region. This will place the google map, and populate the location fields, for new snowpits in the correct location.
  2. Default Province/Country will also determine your date and time format ( Euro: dd/mm/yyyy 24-hour time; US: mm/dd/yyyy 12-hour format with am/pm)
  3. Default Province/Country will also determine your map background: US pits use USGS map data, all others use OpenStreets Maps.
  4. Don’t forget to add Affiliation type and Organization. Doing so will allow you to make your snowpits visible to only your ogranization.
  5. All 'Measurement Unit Prefs' will need to be filled out in order to create a snowpit.
  6. Uploading a photo: we actually don’t care what you look like, but if you like having a pic, go for it.

Creating a Snowpit

  1. Core Info page
    1. This is the page you land on when starting a pit.
    2. Take note of the 5 orange tabs (Core Info, Layers, Stability Tests, Temp Profile, Density). This is how you toggle between the pages when creating a pit.
    3. At the same height of these orange tabs are the <Save Pit and Preview> and <Delete Pit> buttons, pretty self-explanatory.
    4. Double-check the Date and Time of when you dug the snowpit.  It defaults to the current Date/Time.
    5. Don’t forget to check <Practice Pit> if you are just messing around.
    6. The map is set according to your default region. You can either enter Lat/Long or UTM or click on the map to populate those fields
    7. Total Height of Snowpack will default to 150 cm on the <Layers> page. You can change that on either page.
    8. The values in the dropdown menu for Stability on similar slopes assumes you are using the SWAG or OGRES definitions.
  2. Layers page
    1. You must enter all your layers STARTING AT THE SNOW SURFACE. Sorry, but it’s just the way it is right now.
    2. You can create layers by entering in numbers OR clicking one of the squares on the Profile and dragging it.
      1. The top square only moves horizontally and is used to set hardness.
      2. The bottom square moves vertically and adjusts layer depth.
      3. The circle that appears on the lower left slides horizontally to create multiple hardness.
    3. If you click and drag to create the first layer, the bottom depth will not be populated until you click the bottom square.
    4. Add grain types, sizes, etc. and then click <Add Layer> button. A New Layer box appears.
    5. Edit previous layers by clicking on them. Only one layer window at a time can be open.
  3. Stability Tests page
    1. All standard snowpit tests are there according to SWAG/OGRES.
    2. Duplicate tests will be represented on the final graph as 2x, 3x etc…for example, 2x ECTP 28 @40cm.
      1. A <Duplicate Test> button is in the works.
  4. Temperature Profile page
    1. Temperature profile values do not populate the Profile (visible on left), but they are on the final graph.
  5. Density page
    1. Density profile values do not populate the Profile (visible on left), but they are on the final graph.

Save Snowpit and Preview

  1. If you like it, then click on the <Save, Lock, and Download Snowpit> button to get your 4 options: JPG, PNG, SnowPilot XML or CAAML.
    1. Once you choose one of these your pit becomes “Locked” and you can no longer edit it.
  2. Clicking Edit Snowpit allows you to keep working on it.