Abstract Estimation of seasonal snowpack, in mountainous regions, is crucial for accurate streamflow prediction. This paper examines the ability of data assimilation (DA) of remotely sensed microwave radiance data to improve snow water equivalent prediction, and ultimately operational streamflow forecasts. Operational streamflow forecasts in the National Weather Service River Forecast Center (NWSRFC) are produced with a coupled SNOW17 (snow model) and SACramento Soil Moisture Accounting (SAC-SMA) model. A comparison of two assimilation techniques, the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) and the particle filter (PF), is made using a coupled SNOW17 and the microwave emission model for layered snow pack (MEMLS) model to assimilate microwave radiance data. Microwave radiance data, in the form of brightness temperature (TB), is gathered from the advanced microwave scanning radiometer-earth observing system (AMSR-E) at the 36.5 GHz channel. SWE prediction is validated in a synthetic experiment. The distribution of snowmelt from an experiment with real data is then used to run the SAC-SMA model. Several scenarios on state or joint state-parameter updating with TB data assimilation to SNOW-17 and SAC-SMA models were analyzed, and the results show potential benefit for operational streamflow forecasting.