Monitoring the change of snow-covered area (SCA) in a basin is vitally important for optimum operation of water resources, where the main contribution comes from snowmelt. A methodology for obtaining the depletion pattern of SCA, which is based on satellite image observations where mean daily air temperature is used, is applied for the 1997 water year and tested for the 1998 water year. The study is performed at the Upper Euphrates River basin in Turkey (10 216 km(2)). The major melting period in this basin starts in early April. The cumulated mean daily air temperature (CMAT) is correlated to the depletion of snow-covered area with the start of melting. The analysis revealed that SCA values obtained from NOAA-AVHRR satellite images are exponentially correlated to CMAT for the whole basin in a lumped manner, where R-2 values of 0.98 and 0.99 were obtained for the water years 1997 and 1998, respectively. The applied methodology enables the interpolation between the SCA observations and extrapolation. Such a procedure reduces the number of satellite images required for analysis and provides solution for the cloud-obscured images. Based on the image availability, the effect of the number of images on the quality of snowmelt runoff simulations is also discussed. In deriving the depletion curve for SCA, if the number of images is reduced, the timing of image analysis within the snowmelt period is found very important. Analysis of the timing of satellite images indicated that images from the early and middle parts of the melt period are more important.