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D.C.'s Snowfall Totals Are Off. What Happened?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, Washington, D.C., received a lot of snow over the weekend. It's just hard to say how much.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: In Washington, more than 17 inches according to the Weather Service, making it the fourth-largest storm in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Near 20 inches at Reagan National Airport, which...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Our official measuring point - 17.8.

INSKEEP: OK, several different numbers there. This might have been a bigger storm than any of those numbers suggest. We say might because we don't know. The official measurement of the show in Washington could be on the low side. The National Weather Service normally takes its measurements at Reagan National Airport a little bit outside the city. They use what's called a snowboard, which could be little more than a piece of plywood. They just wipe it off after every six hours or so and measure it again. But Saturday night, they lost the board. It got buried under the snow, so the weather observers had to improvise, and they may have been wrong, they say. While Reagan National officially recorded 17.8 inches of snow, other parts of the metropolitan area reported around 20 inches or more. And the National Weather Service says it is investigating. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.