Dedicated Weather Observers Needed

As the 2009/2010 winter season progresses, we continue to see significant snowfall accumulations across much of the Red River Valley region. Your NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) is tasked with analyzing the current meteorological and hydrologic conditions, and how they relate to future flood potential. A significant part of the flood forecasting effort is the ability for the NWS to properly analyze how much water content exists in the current snow blanketing the region. The most reliable and accurate method of obtaining snow water content measurements is the human weather observer. Currently the NWS operates a network of Cooperative Weather Observers across eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. These dedicated volunteers report a variety of weather information to us, including snowfall and the water content of the snow.

However, despite the valiant efforts of the NWS Cooperative Observer, there are a few parts of eastern North Dakota where we need more information than the current network can provide. The NWS Cooperative Weather Observer program was designed with monitoring the longer term climate, so the density of the Cooperative Network is not dense enough to cover the needs of today's improved hydrologic services. With each significant snow this year, our weather observers have worked to provide us with information on the snow pack. Due to the increasing threat for flooding this spring, the NWS is looking for more information.

We do partner with other state, local and federal agencies to obtain snow fall, snow depth and snow water content information. We get information from the Department of Natural Resources, State Water Commission, USGS and Army Corps of Engineers. Yet we need more information to more correctly assess the 2010 spring flood threat  

What would we ask our volunteers to do? Report to us the depth of snow on the ground and the water content of the snow. Your NWS would work to supply you with equipment and training. Access to and the ability to use the internet is highly desirable, but not mandatory. Click here for an excellent video on measuring snow fall, snow depth and snow water content. The information you would provide will benefit your friends, family and neighbors by helping us provide higher quality river forecasts and services.

The locations listed below would be good places for us to have additional snow depth and snow water data observers.

If you are interested in helping your National Weather Service help you, please contact Mark Ewens Data Acquisition Program Manager or Mike Lukes, Service Hydrologist and we will be able to work with you.


North Dakota           Minnesota          
County City Observer Needed     County City Observer Needed    
Traill Clifford         Norman Shelly, Twin Valley, Hendrum    
Steele Hope         Clay Barnesville, Baker,Downer, Felton, Hawley
Barnes Pillsbury, Dazey       Wilkin Kent, Nashua, Tenney, Brushvale  
Ransom Fort Ransom, Lisbon     Becker Callaway, Lake Park      
Sargent Gwinner, Forman, Cogswell     Otter Tail Elizabeth,  Battle Lake, Perham  
Cass Page, Leonard, Alice, Tower City   Grant Elbow lake, Wendell, Norcross  
Richland Dwight, Fairmount, Mantador              

Below is a map focusing on the southern Red River Valley. The blue box represents where we need additional observers to help us out.

Map of where we most need snow water reports

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