Use an app to send precipitation observations to the NWS

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Many areas where wildland firefighters are working do not have great coverage from weather radar because of the distance from the transmitter or steep terrain blocking the signals. You can help the National Weather Service produce better forecasts by using an app on your phone that can let them know what is happening at your location.

The message below from the National Weather Service in Rapid City uses local examples, but the principles are relevant in other areas:


Want to be a citizen scientist and help us determine what type of precipitation (snow, rain, sleet, hail, etc.) is falling?

Download the mPING app and use it to report various precipitation types as they occur. This data is incredibly helpful, especially because the terrain in SD and WY impacts radar coverage (can make it difficult to know what is happening at the surface far from the radar location in New Underwood, SD). Determining precipitation type can be rather tricky without observations at the surface. This is especially true when the temperature is just right that some places receive rain, while others get snow. That’s where the power of mPING comes in handy!

All reports are anonymous – only the location (latitude/longitude), time, and precipitation type are recorded.

The app can be downloaded on Android and iOS devices. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or check out the mPING FAQ. We appreciate your willingness to help!

Links to the app here:


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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Use an app to send precipitation observations to the NWS”

  1. Hi Bill,

    Hope this finds you well. It has been too long since I’ve been in touch. Lots of activity on behalf of our federal wildland firefighters on the Hill and I expect to be back there in early April. Legislation includes once again our efforts to get OPM to create a separate and distinct federal wildland firefighter classification series as well as legislation that would allow federal wildland firefighters who lose their FF job as a result of job related injury or illness and who are placed in an equivalent Agency position to retain their special retirement provisions. We are also hopeful that federal FF cancer presumptive legislation will once again be introduced. Retired Congresswoman Lois Capps of California had championed the cause for years so we are in communication with the IAFF to see if they have found someone else to carry the issue forward. We’ve read some on the cancer registry legislation which is all fine and dandy. However as we continue to see even “red” states pass cancer presumptive legislation for their state/municipal FFs, it should be no different for wildland firefighters whether they be local Gov’t, State, or Federal.


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