PING – What "type" of precipitation is falling by you? . . . NOAA’s NSSL appreciates your help!


NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) is located in Norman, Oklahoma. They study severe and hazardous weather processes and develop tools to help National Weather Service forecasters, and federal, university and private sector partners use weather information more effectively.

Back in December, NSSL launched its iPhone and Android apps to collect precipitation reports from the public: “PING”. The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, in partnership with the University of Oklahoma launched this app allowing users to anonymously report precipitation from their iPhone or Android through the “mobile Precipitation Identification Near the Ground “mPING” app. NSSL researchers are comparing the reports with what radars detect and are using the information to develop new radar and forecasting technologies and techniques to determine whether snow, rain, ice pellets, mixtures or hail is falling. NSSL hopes to build a valuable database of tens of thousands of observations from across the U.S.

Some CoCoRaHS observers have asked “Could PING be potential competition for CoCoRaHS?”

Kim Elmore of NSSL addresses this question: “CoCoRaHS has interest in precip type (snow depth, hail occurrence, etc.) but doesn’t focus on in situ, real time observations of precipitation type. Yet, that’s essentially all PING does! It cannot, under any circumstances, replace CoCoRaHS, nor can CoCoRaHS independently serve the research interests of PING. Both deal with precipitation, but PING is singularly interested in precipitation type while CoCoRaHS is primarily (though not exclusively) interested in precipitation amount. Again, both deal with precipitation, but each deals with a different aspect of precipitation. As of yet, neither tracks precipitation rate in real time, which is something that the radar QPE algorithms need but is very difficult to obtain. Even harder is liquid equivalent rate for frozen precipitation, such as snow.

NSSL can not stress enough that CoCoRaHS observers must not confuse the data CoCoRaHS collects with the data that PING collects and PING observers must not assume that PING yields data that CoCoRaHS needs. CoCoRaHS observations must not be abandoned for PING! Frankly, we need them for our work in QPE algorithm development. PING observations are of very limited value to the CoCoRaHS mission and CoCoRaHS precip type reports and amounts are of very limited value to the PING mission, yet both are absolutely necessary because they serve in a complimentary fashion the overall mission embraced by remote sensing. “

More info on the PING app:

The apps are available on iTunes or Google Play for use on both phones and tablets.

The reports can be viewed here in real-time:

Lab’s main PING page:

Link for iTunes app:

Link for Android app:

If you have some extra time please give this a try, NSSL would really appreciate your help!

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