Weather Observers Needed

As the Drought of 2012 persists, we continue to have a need for more weather reports. Your NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) is tasked with analyzing the current meteorological, climatological and hydrologic conditions; and how they relate to future weather - be it continued drought or potential flood. A significant part of the entire forecasting effort is the ability for the NWS to properly analyze how much - or how little - rain or snow has fallen across the region. The most reliable and accurate method of obtaining rainfall, snow fall & depth as well as 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. This is due in part to an aging work force; many of our observers have been reporting to us faithfully for many decades. The NWS Cooperative Weather Observer program was designed with monitoring the longer term climate, so the decline in observations has reduced the density of the Cooperative Network. There are simply too few observers to cover the needs of today's improved hydrologic and weather forecast services. As the drought lingers on, having reports of zero precipitation are equally important as actual rain (or snow) reports.

We do partner with other state, local and federal agencies to obtain rain fall, 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 from specific areas, using NWS specific equipment and techniques.

What would we ask our volunteers to do? Report to us how much (or how little) rain has fallen, in season 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 a telephone data entry system or the internet is a requirement. 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.

Another option is the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network - CoCoRaHS. CoCoRahs is highlighted in an NWS Top News Article here that goes into a bit more detail.

The locations listed below are where NWS Observers have collected information for us in the past but for a variety of reasons can no longer help.

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.

Dalton Minnesota (southern Otter Tail / northern Grant County area)

Lisbon (Ransom County North Dakota)
Colgate (Steele County North Dakota)
Hansboro (Towner County North Dakota)
Valley City (Barnes County North Dakota)
Cooperstown (Griggs County North Dakota)

 Additional information is available from an older Top News Article found here.



Return to News Archive is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.