Become a Weather Observer, Volunteer With CoCoRaHS! A Great Experience For Young Children & Senior Citizens Alike
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a non-profit weather observing network with thousands of volunteers across the United States, Canada, and The Bahamas. These volunteer weather observers take daily weather reports from their homes and businesses and submit them to the CoCoRaHS database, which is used to help meteorologists create forecasts, publish weather alerts to save lives and property, and assist in the diverse professional meteorology community.
The best part about it – it only takes a few minutes each day, you can do it from home, and the only requirement is to have enthusiasm about watching and reporting the weather, with a desire to learn.
What’s really cool is that CoCoRaHS is utilized in the United States by the National Weather Service and other professional meteorological agencies. If you record an inch of rain at your house and report it to CoCoRaHS via their online platform, the National Weather Service and other meteorologists will use it to assist in forecasting. If you report large hail, flooding, or other dangerous weather – your report will be documented and remain valuable for research, insurance claims, damage surveys, among other professional uses. Weekly condition monitoring reports are also submitted by hundreds to thousands of users to assist in drought monitoring.
Here’s the thing – it’s so easy to become a part of the program, my toddler daughter even does it with me. While I’m a professional meteorologist, it’s an absolute blast walking out each morning with my youngster who is still trying to learn her ABC’s to check the rain gauge. Through the routine, she learns the very basics about weather and its effects, about the responsibility of making accurate reports, about getting work done on time, and – very important – that Dad’s job is pretty cool.
So, how do you start?
It’s easy! Go to CoCoRaHS.org, then click “Join CoCoRaHS” on the left side of the webpage. Volunteering is absolutely free, but you will need to purchase a high-quality rain gauge of certain specifications before you can make rainfall reports to ensure that reports are standardized across the network using the same equipment. I’ve listed some websites below (price may or may not include shipping). There is also online training on the CoCoRaHS website, and a local coordinator will get in touch with you to assist in any questions you may have. That’s it!
It’s so easy, everyone should do it. Become an important part of CoCoRaHS today!
A severe thunderstorm early in the morning on October 9th, 2018 near Del Rio, Texas caused flooding wains, damaging winds, small hail, and even possibly a tornado. While most of Del Rio - especially the north side of town - did not catch the brunt end of the storm - neighborhoods on the east side of town and the Laughlin AFB area took a direct hit of the storm's fury.
Del Rio International Airport received 2.83 inches of rain from the storm - heavy, but not uncommon in severe storms. Laughlin AFB, however, less than 10 miles east of the Del Rio airport, received 5.25 inches from the same storm, causing widespread flooding and halting pilot training for the day due to excessive water on the runways and taxiways.
Additionally, small hail was reported across much of southern and eastern Del Rio as well as Laughlin AFB - mostly pea to marble size - and Laughlin AFB recorded a brief 72 mph wind gust (nearly hurricane force) while Del Rio Airport recorded only 40 mph.
The National Weather Service (NWS) did issue a severe thunderstorm warning for the storm, indicating damaging winds and large hail. A Flash Flood Watch was also valid during the time of the storm, accounting for the heavy rain.
As the storm crossed the border from Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, the NWS also promptly issued a Tornado Warning indicating that a tornado was imminent or already occurring.
This was likely due the "hook" shape of the storm, similar to the one seen in the image above. This hook shape is a result of strong rotation within the thunderstorm's updraft region and can lead to tornadic activity. Since tornadoes are often too small to be seen by weather radars, special indications from the hook on the weather radar will trigger meteorologists to disseminate a Tornado Warning.
While this storm did show weak signs of rotation as it crossed the border, a much more robust, defined hook presented as the storm positioned itself just east of Laughlin AFB on the Kinney County side of Sycamore Creek that would certainly raise the eyebrows of any meteorologist (the image above).
So, was there a tornado? None confirmed. In order to confirm a tornado, it must be either observed or damage or path carved by the tornado must be observed. Since no definitive path or damage has been reported that could be attributed to tornadic activity, no tornado can be confirmed.
It's unlikely that anywhere within Val Verde County - including Del Rio or Laughlin AFB - experienced a tornado due to somewhat weak rotation of the storm overhead. Just east, however, a much more significant rotational signature was noted along the western reaches of Kinney County near Sycamore Creek and extending to just south of the Foyt Ranch along the Highway 90. If a tornado did occur, it would have most likely been within this region.
For a loop of the entire storm from Del Rio to near Brackettville, see the below video.
130 passengers on American Airlines Flight 1897 from San Antonio to Phoenix on Sunday (June 3rd) had a scary ride as their aircraft slammed head-on into a hail storm at 34,000 feet over South-Central New Mexico. Ultimately, this aircraft decided to make an emergency landing in El Paso - apparently using on-board instrumentation and a cockpit side-window to land since the windshield was shattered by golf-ball to tennis-ball size hail.
A wide swath of thunderstorms - including severe weather - was occurring through West Texas and New Mexico through the afternoon and evening. The normal jet route would take the Airbus A319 airliner along the same route as the Interstate 10 through West Texas - but due to weather, it appears Air Traffic Control routed traffic above just west of Odessa, Texas to Carlsbad, New Mexico, to near Capitan, New Mexico. That's where the real trouble began.
Attempting to avoid the strongest storms, the flight was routed over the Sierra Blanca mountain range north of Ruidoso, New Mexico, where - at first look on the radar - appears to show a decent break in the weather. A slight blip of rainfall on the above image is shown just ahead of the nose of the aircraft, but does not appear to be of much significance. Weather radar on-board the Airbus has not been released, but may have likely showed a different story. Here's what I found when I did some digging...
As you can see, significant weather radar reflectivity is noted in at the same place as the first image - why the difference? This is because the first image (top-down look) showed "Base Reflectivity" - the scan of the radar at the lowest level. The cross-section image shows the entire storm, and is likely to show a bit more of what the on-board weather radar would have shown, although it is possible that the frequency may have been attenuated (degraded by heavy precipitation) at some point - or the angle at which the airplane radar was broadcasted did not solicit correct feedback returns.
From the looks of things based on the top-down view and base-reflectivity imagery, this route appears to be the best way around a long line of storms. However - the atmospheric cross-section above proved that this was one of the worst places to cross.
Unfortunatly, this part of New Mexico is plagued by some radar dead-spots. It's rural, and the nearest radar (Alamogordo) sits on the west side of a mountain while this aircraft was approaching from the east - and the weather was on this east side of the mountain - making it a bit more difficult to "see".
The next nearest radar on the east side of the mountain (Clovis, New Mexico) is about 120 miles from the site of the incident. This is much further away than the Alamogordo radar (only 45 miles away), but due to terrain and the radar scan tilt at that distance, it actually captured a better view of the storm. This base-reflectivity, top-down radar image (above) shows a different story.
Why did Air Traffic route this aircraft into a hail storm? How come the pilots didn't "see" this weather and avoid it? The investigation will likely tell on this one, but it certainly wouldn't have been my advice. Fortunately, a miraculous landing in El Paso with little visibility out of a shattered windshield concluded this flight - nothing less than expert piloting figuring that one out.
While Del Rio did far exceed normal temperatures since record-keeping started in town in late 1905 (102 years ago), it still didn't make #1 on the list for any monthly extremes, although it did break one daily high-temperature record (90 degrees on February 8th, beating 1932's record of 89 degrees), tied another (93 degrees, tying 1996), and beat a daily rainfall record (February 14th, beating 1962's record of 0.13 inches with 0.25 inches).
Originally Posted At DanielSchreiber.org
If you’ve ever visited the National Weather Service’s Homepage (weather.gov), you’ve probably noticed a map of the United States with a bunch of colors on it. representing various weather alerts – warnings, advisories, outlooks, and so on. Occasionally, an amber alert message will show up on there, as will several non-weather related emergency messages. Here’s the map:
Ever curious what all those colors mean? And, what happens if there are several alerts in the same location?
The National Weather Service is working on creating a new system which significantly simplifies the way they do business with weather – and other emergency – alerts.
Right now, there are 122 possible messages (plus a “test” message) that the NWS could disseminate, but only one color could show on the map at a time in one location.
This creates several problems.
First: There are so many alerts, and so many colors, that it’s difficult to distinguish what alerts are in effect simply by looking at the map. For instance, there are about 25 different alerts with some shade of blue. MOST of them have something to do with cold weather, but they also include Avalanches, Rip Currents, and Severe Weather, to name a few.
Second: There are so many alike alerts that the average citizen doesn’t understand their minute differences. For example, Hard Freeze Warnings, Extreme Cold Warnings, Freeze Warnings, Frost Advisory, Freezing Fog, Freezing Spray, Heavy Freezing Spray, and Freezing Rain Advisories, and Winter Weather Warnings. The only thing that most people will understand from all of this is: Cold. The National Weather Service has considered combining several of these alerts into one, eliminating the confusion.
Third: So many alerts can lead to citizen complacency. With 122 possible alerts, there is almost always bound to be some sort of alert in effect nearby. Hazardous Weather Outlooks and Short-Term Forecasts are common, and these alerts can steal the glory from more severe weather alerts, like Severe Weather Statements, Severe Thunderstorm Watches, and Flash Flood Warnings. While there is a pecking-order of which color is displayed (for example, a Tornado Warning will display on the map over a Flood Warning), many folks don’t necessarily identify the difference between “Special Weather”, “Severe Weather”. “Hazardous Weather”, “Winter Weather”, and so-on – it’s all just “bad weather”.
Fourth: Should the Federal Government be reaching into non-severe weather alerts? This is a loaded, political question. But, it raises an interesting question. While I believe that an American citizen is entitled to the knowledge of looming life-threatening weather, how far should the federal government involve itself into local, not-imminently-life-threatening weather alerts? At what point should state governments take the lead? Food for thought.
The NWS has proposed several fixes (to all but my fourth problem, naturally). They’ve explored the possibility of only displaying four colors on the map: red, yellow, orange, and purple, indicating simply warnings (red), watches (yellow), and advisories (orange), and emergencies (purple).
Another idea proposed displaying alerts as impacts: Limited, Moderate, High, and Extreme impact. The user could then click on the map to read more.