I have a general question about the purpose of this competition. We predict SWE and the results are evaluated using reference SWE data. But if USBR knows the answer, why are they having this competition?
USBR knows the answer for some locations, those that have a ground measure station or manually collected measurement from a volunteer or for locations where Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) data has been collected. However, I imagine that collecting those measurements is expensive to scale (i.e. installing new ground measurement stations, conducting more ASO). If it is possible to achieve reasonable accuracy using existing data sources, like satellite observations, then USBR will have a sense of SWE in more geographic locations, more often, for less cost.