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New Smart Phone App Lets Public Report Rain, Hail, Sleet and Snow to NOAA

New Smart Phone App Lets Public Report Rain, Hail, Sleet and Snow to NOAA

Public reports will aid weather research

It’s now easier than ever to be a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) weather research. The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, in partnership with the University of Oklahoma, has launched a free app for users to anonymously report precipitation from their Apple or Android mobile device.

With the mPING app,anyone can send a weather observation on the go. The user simply opens the app, selects the type of precipitation that is falling at his or her location, and presses submit. The user’s location and the time of the observation are automatically included in the report.

All submissions will become part of a research project called PING – Precipitation Identification Near the Ground. NSSL and OU researchers will use the mPING submissions to build a valuable database of tens of thousands of observations from across the United States.  Full press release

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Nation Wide??

I was excited about the mPING app and project when I read the press release for the program today, and couldn't wait to download the app and try it out. However, upon visiting the project's web site, I was dismayed to see that, although the language in the press release includes phrases like: "valuable database of tens of thousands of observations from across the United States" and "this nation-wide information will be instantly available from one website", the entire United States is not, in fact, represented. The map display does not include the states of Hawaii or Alaska. Are data from these states collected and included in the project and just not displayed or accessible? Are the precipitation reports from Alaska and Hawaii weeded out and excluded? If I download the app and try to report precipitation while in Alaska, will it be recorded and used? Will I even be able to report precipitation from my location in Alaska? I visited the tutorial web page, to see if my questions were addressed there, however the site only led to more questions. The tutorial web page states, "The default map covers the entire continental United States." I believe that this must be a typo, as Alaska is on the North American continent. Perhaps the author actually meant that the map covers the CONTIGUOUS United States? At any rate, I have not been able to ascertain whether my entries into the app are going anywhere or will be collected and added to the project's data base, perhaps in a future version or a planned update to include the rest of the country, or if I am wasting my time. Alaska is a large and data-sparse region, and much can be learned from ANY information submitted by interested citizens across the state. I would think that even if the NSSL and OU are not interested in utilizing data from this particular region of the United States, perhaps they might provide the platform for a data base that "researchers..." and other "...groups, including students and teachers, forecasters, TV meteorologists, members of the transportation and aviation industries, city managers and law enforcement" could use. This project is really a great idea which many Alaskans, avid weather watchers on the whole, would surely find many applications for, if we were included in the data base.