Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Mountain Rain and Snow: Citizen Science - A WxTalk Recap

Mountain Rain and Snow is a citizen science project coordinated by Lynker Tech, the Desert Research Institute, and the University of Nevada, Reno to document winter precipitation in the mountains. Of particular interest are situations where snow is falling with surface temperatures above freezing.

Meghan Collins, Education Program Manager at the Desert Research Institute and co-investigator for the project, described this project in her WxTalk webinar on March 10th. Answering the simple question “Is it raining, snowing, or mixed precipitation right now?" can make a big difference for estimating just how much precipitation falls in winter. Mountain Rain and Snow engages citizen scientists like CoCoRaHs observers and others to help collect data to answer this question.

Scientists use temperature thresholds to determine where and when a storm will transition from rain to snow. If that threshold is off, it can affect predictions of flooding, snow accumulation, and avalanche hazard. This rain-snow temperature threshold is primarily a function of humidity and elevation. Ground-based observations of the precipitation phase provide the information that can be correlated with temperature and relative humidity observations.