Want to Aid Research and Help Us Too? Send an Observation via mPING!

Identifying wintertime precipitation at the ground remains a challenge for observation platforms like radar and surface-based observations. In fact, just this past December 2nd, we encountered a situation where the turnover to snow was difficult to tell via these platforms. Fortunately, however, identifying precipitation type was aided by reports on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, we would like to introduce another tool that will allow you to help us, and in the process aid scientific research. This is all done via a smartphone app that allows you to send us anonymous reports while mapping your observation’s location in real-time online. This is done through the mPING Project and the app mPING. PING stands for Precipitation Identification Near the Ground.


What is it?

mPING is a product of NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory in partnership with the University of Oklahoma and the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies that allows users to anonymously report their precipitation type from a smartphone – be it an Apple or an Android device. These reports will aid researchers and their work, which is centered on winter surface precipitation type and hail occurrence/size. These data are then analyzed and then compared with the corresponding radar data.  These reports and data will then be used to develop new radar and forecasting technologies and techniques. The researchers hope to build a valuable and extensive database with these reports coming from all across the United States.


How does it work?

mPING lets you report what precipitation type is occurring in real-time from your device, while automatically recording the time of the observation and the user’s location via your smartphone. All in all, it takes about five seconds! Excitingly, all reports in the PING database, both past and real-time, can be viewed on the project’s website. So anyone can see all the observations to better identify the locations where hazardous forms of precipitation exist and where the rain/snow line is.


Report types include:

  • Rain and/or Snow:
    • None
    • Drizzle
    • Freezing Drizzle
    • Rain
    • Freezing Rain
    • Ice Pellets/Sleet
    • Snow
    • Mixed Rain & Snow
    • Mixed Rain & Ice Pellets
    • Mixed ice Pellets & Snow
  • Hail (including size)
  • Wind Damage
  • Flood

  • Mudslide/Landslide
  • Dense Fog
  • Blowing Dust/Sand


Two things to remember:

  1. mPING was designed with research goals in mine and, specifically, as a scientific tool for identifying winter surface precipitation type and hail occurrence/size. 

  2. Don’t forget to report to your local NWS Office still via the usual methods (e.g., a spotter report, Facebook, Twitter, phone, etc.). This is important, as these mPING reports aid weather research and may or may not be seen by your local office during the event.

Happy reporting – we hope to see south central and southeast Wisconsin active on the mPING map this winter season!

See the mPING website and get the app here: www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/ping/ and watch a YouTube video about mPING here.


National Weather Service
Milwaukee/Sullivan, WI Weather Forecast Office

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