Spotters and storm chasers can provide a treasure trove of information useful to NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) researchers by reporting what you see through RadarScope. Tornado sightings are extremely helpful for both warning purposes and research purposes. While it’s hard to imagine, not all the tornadoes you see get reported and make it into databases. But one of the most challenging severe storm aspects to capture is hail information.
None of us like to find the hail as it’s falling: it dents cars, can crack windows and, in extreme cases, come right through the windshield exposing our passengers and us to tiny flying fragments of glass that can cause severe injury. If you run into big hail, first and foremost you need to protect yourself. When it’s safe, use RadarScope to send an mPING report of the hail along with the most significant size you experienced. These reports help fellow chasers know that there was severe hail in the storm and to exercise caution. If you are delayed by a few, or even as many as ten, minutes, and displaced from the thunderstorm by a kilometer, you should still send the report. It won’t harm the research purpose of mPING and will alert fellow chasers and spotters that the storm has produced dangerous hail in the recent past.
What about the small, “inconsequential” hail? How does it figure into the mPING reports? If you find any hail at all, even pea-sized, researchers still need to know about it. Their interest goes well beyond severe sized hail. What if there’s no hail at all in a thunderstorm? You can report that too. It lets those at NSSL know there’s no hail reaching the ground, and that is also valuable information.
To use mPING, you need to have RadarScope on a mobile phone. Click on the icon used to save images or loops and choose “mPING Report.” The app will load categories and your location. You will then be able to select what type of weather you want to report. To view mPing reports on your app, go to your settings. Under “Layers” you can toggle on and off these reports.