The Impact of Our Observers
The Impact of Our Observers
November 2022 - Led by Meghan Collins and Monica Arienzo
Mountain Rain or Snow is a collaborative science effort.
This successful project went from "small" to "big" with your help. You joined over 1,100 other observers to contribute to making this science possible.
Community observers shared over 15,000 reports of rain, snow, or mixed precipitation with us last winter season! This is a sixfold increase over the previous season, when the project was focused on just one region. The heatmap shows the geographic distribution of the observations that were submitted. Reds and oranges indicate the highest density of observations, followed by yellow, blue, and purple. Sometimes scientists group these areas into “ecoregions” with hydroclimatic similarities, and there were 35 ecoregions represented in last year’s dataset!
As of the end of last season, our largest regional network was the Northeast with 318 observers, followed by the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with 310 observers, the Sierra Nevada with 219 observers, and the Cascade Mountains with 30 observers. Numerous dedicated people also send observations from outside one of these regions as well, as you can see from the heatmap.
Heatmap of observations from the 2021-2022 season.
Real-time communication with a real human.
One of the best features of participating in this project is that observers can communicate with a real human from the project team in real-time.
How does it work? Well, you likely signed up for the project by texting a regionally-specific keyword to our project number, which is 855-909-0798 (if you aren't signed up, find your keyword on the list below). This automatically signs you up for weather alerts and provides guidance on how to participate. At any time, you can reply to an alert with questions about how to submit observations or the weather in your area.
We aim to keep the training for the project quick and simple. We send out a series of short text messages with the training information. In our Observer Input Survey, 85% of respondents said that the training texts were helpful. We also compiled an extensive list of FAQs in response to observer questions.
Observers like receiving text alerts about upcoming storms.
We pay attention to weather in every region and send out alerts when storms are in the forecast with predicted temperatures near freezing. Observers can reply directly to text messages with questions or comments for project organizers. We send alerts between November and May each year.
Our intention is to strike a balance with these alerts: frequent enough to be useful for community observers while being respectful of everyone’s time and attention. In our survey, 72% of respondents said that we sent “just enough” text messages, and nearly one third of respondents (27%) said that there were “not enough”. We actually received many comments about the need for those extra reminders! So, we will continue to let you know when there are storms of interest on the way.
Community observations driving Mountain Rain or Snow science forward.
With your help, our project team has achieved a lot in the last year!
10 news articles featuring the project
10 community presentations reaching nearly 400 people
5 presentations at international academic conferences
2 scientific manuscripts in preparation
$1.14 in additional funding from NASA to support 12 scientists and students to drive this research forward
Why does your input matter?
As we grow, we want to offer a positive experience for our observers. Hearing your input on the ways that Mountain Rain or Snow communicates with community observers and learning how you feel about this communication helps Mountain Rain or Snow make future seasons more straightforward, more effective, and more fun.
At any time, you can:
Reply directly to our text alerts to reach a real person
Email the project team for help with the app or troubleshooting technology
Request a presentation of the scientific results for groups of 15 or more
We look forward to hearing from you!