‘Mountain Rain or Snow’ seeks citizen scientists, winter storm reports

INCLINE VILLAGE — A new citizen science project has been launched and organizations are seeking public help in submitting observations of rain, snow, and mixed precipitation.

During the winter, a few degrees can make all the difference between digging your car out of a snowbank and rushing rivers overtopping their banks. Why? Winter storms at near-freezing temperatures have notoriously fickle precipitation, with mixes of rain and snow. While the air temperature difference between the two may be slight, the real-world consequences can be huge.

What’s more, the computer models we use to predict weather and streamflow often struggle to predict whether rain or snow will fall when temperatures are right around freezing. Satellites don’t do much better. What this means is that scientists need your help.

With NASA funding, a team from Lynker, DRI, 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 from your 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.

This winter we’re focusing our efforts on the following mountain regions. If you’re in one of these areas, text the region-specific keyword to the number provided. You’ll then get a link to the Mountain Rain or Snow web app and you’ll receive notifications of incoming winter storms in your area. You can opt-out at any time.

For the Sierra Nevada in California and Nevada, text WINTER to 855-909-0798

Anyone can submit an observation at any time via and you can check out our website for more information. For Mountain Rain or Snow questions, contact Dr. Keith Jennings, at

Mountain Rain or Snow engages citizen scientist volunteers to submit observations of rain, snow, or mixed precipitation via smartphones and other devices.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication of the Sierra Sun.

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