River Watch Program

NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) monitors ice breakup and river conditions throughout the U.S. to assess flood threats and navigational hazards. The River Watch Program is a voluntary program asking pilots and other individuals to report observed river conditions that can be obtained without deviation from the normal route or flight level. The purpose of this program is to assist the NWS in providing accurate forecasts, warnings, and river navigation information.


Supplemental aerial observations from aircraft flying at low to mid-level altitudes significantly enhance the information on river conditions. Since conditions can be significantly different along a river and can change rapidly during the ice breakup process, numerous observations are needed to assess the status of breakup.

 River and lake ice and water observations can be provided to the National Weather Service by the following methods:

     •    Radio the appropriate FSS or CWSU who will encode and disseminate as a remark in a PIREP
     •    Call NWS WFO Aberdeen at 605-225-0519

     •    Email the report/photo to abrreports@gmail.com
     •    Text the report to (605-229-9029)

 NWS River Watch Program contacts:

      •    Brad Sipperley (907-458-3713 or 3708) Fairbanks, AK brad.sipperley@noaa.gov
      •    Renee Wise (605-225-0519) Aberdeen, SD renee.wise@noaa.gov


Additional Information
 What is River Watch?
 River Watch Power Point Presentation
 Pilot's Guide to River Ice Handbook
 Ice Descriptors in Text Format
 River Watch Checklist  

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