National Public Observation Program
Remember this phone number! It serves as a link to our most important source of information during inclement weather...YOU!
Tornadoes, hail, strong winds, flooding...the National Weather Service is responsible for issuing warnings for many types of severe weather. We have many tools to help us anticipate and warn for these hazards. However, ground truth reports of actual weather events always have, and always will, depend on reports from human observers. Of course, we need a way to efficiently handle severe weather reports during the hustle and bustle of dealing with rapidly changing conditions. That is where our POP (Public Observation Program) computer comes in.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a trained Skywarn spotter, please use the toll-free number given to you at your training session. The POP is more appropriate for use by the general public.
In case you forgot...the phone number is 1-877-633-6772
When you call (using a touch-tone phone only, please!), you will be connected to the POP computer. The computer will then ask you a series of questions. These questions are meant to identify the type and severity of weather which you are reporting. When your call is completed, the POP computer will alert the staff to the presence of a new report. Assuming that there are no problems, your report will then be sent out to the world...and may be heard on NOAA Weather Radio, local radio and TV stations, and who knows, maybe even the Weather Channel!
One important note...the computer will ask you to input your phone number when you make a report. It is very important that we have a way to verify the report and call you for additional information if necessary. We will NEVER call you for any purpose other than to verify a report. Also, your phone number and any other personal information will NEVER leave this office. We realize the importance of your privacy!
Did I forget to mention? That phone number is 1-877-633-6772
We would like you to call, when it is safe to do so, if you observe any of the following:
So next time the weather is really nasty...give us a call and let us know!
Observers should measure the snow fall and when possible or if you are willing to do so the snow depth and liquid water equivalent:
Measure and record the greatest amount of snowfall that has accumulated on your snowboard (wooden deck or ground if board is not available) since the previous snowfall observation. This measurement should be taken minimally once-an event (but can be taken up to four times a day, see note below) and should reflect the greatest accumulation of new snow observed (in inches and tenths, for example, 3.9 inches) since the last snowfall observation. If your observation is not based on a measurement, it is extremely important to indicate the report is an estimate.
It is essential to measure snowfall (and snow depth) in locations where the effects of blowing and drifting are minimized. Finding a good location where snow accumulates uniformly simplifies all other aspects of the observation and reduces the numerous opportunities for error. In open areas where windblown snow cannot be avoided, several measurements may often be necessary to obtain an average depth and they should not include the largest drifts. In heavily forested locations, try and find an exposed clearing in the trees. Measurements beneath trees are inaccurate since large amounts of snow can accumulate on trees and never reach the ground.
If your daily schedule permits, you may wish to make a snowfall observation every 6 hours. This is the procedure followed by NOAAs National Weather Service Forecast Offices. Follow the same rules for a once-a-day observation, but the snow accumulation reported will be the greatest for the previous six hours instead of 24 hours. If you take your observations at this frequency, make sure that you clear your snowboard (or other measuring surface) no more than once every 6 hours. Record the frequency of observations during the day in the comments section of your report. Never sum more than four, six-hourly observations to determine your 24-hour snowfall total. If you use more than four observations, it would falsely increase snowfall totals.