Have you ever noticed snow falling when the air temperature is above freezing? Your eyes aren’t deceiving you! Temperatures near freezing can bring rain or snow, posing a real challenge for water managers who need to know how much precipitation falls as what type. More accurately predicting rain vs. snow is important for understanding our snowpack and year-round water availability.
You can be part of the team that is solving this problem by sending real-time observations of winter weather. Together, we are improving our understanding of the rain-snow transition temperature, which is used in weather forecasts and hydrologic models. Normally, we use weather stations to observe air temperature and precipitation, with computer models or mathematical relationships indicating whether it is raining or snowing. However, there are inconsistencies with the current models. With help from weather spotters, Mountain Rain or Snow recorded evidence of snow consistently falling at above-freezing temperatures in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
We are expanding the program to new regions, and you can be a part of this! Our focus this season is on the mountains of California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and the Northeast US. To join and to get details on the Mountain Rain or Snow web app, find the keyword in the region nearest you:
- California/Nevada: Text WINTER to 855-909-0798
- Northeast US: Text FastGrass to 855-909-0798
- Colorado: Text CORainSnow to 855-909-0798
- Oregon: Text OregonRainOrSnow to 855-909-0798
From the science team’s news release: “With NASA funding, a team from Lynker, the Desert Research Institute, and the University of Nevada, Reno are launching a citizen science project where volunteers like you can submit observations of rain, snow, and mixed precipitation via your smartphone, laptop, desktop, tablet, or any other device with a browser. We call it Mountain Rain or Snow and you can report fromyour backcountry adventures, winter drives (as long as you're the passenger!), and even the comfort of your own home. Every observation is valuable!
As we grow the community of Mountain Rain or Snow volunteers, we will be better able to analyze patterns of rain and snow to improve satellite monitoring and model predictions. This info can then bring about better weather forecasts, more detailed knowledge of skiing conditions, improved avalanche risk assessments, and more robust understanding of the water stored in mountain snowpacks.
Mountain Rain or Snow is a collaboration between Lynker, the Desert Research Institute, and University of Nevada-Reno with support from NASA.