National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Get Involved!

While the National Weather Service has a wide variety of automated systems, both in situ and remote, which are used to detect various weather phenomena, our most valuable resource in the field is ordinary citizens. The information provided by ordinary citizens to the National Weather Service is absolutely vital to our ability to provide timely weather warnings and to verify those warnings. There are four primary programs in which anyone can provide valuable weather data to us, which are all listed below.


The Skywarn program is the National Weather Service's (NWS) severe weather spotter program. Observers in this program report significant weather such as severe storms, heavy snow, flooding and/or storm damage to their local NWS Weather Forecast Office (WFO). By providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the NWS, these volunteers help keep their local communities safe as their data is immediately distributed. Such data is also the basis for issuing and verifying severe weather warnings. More information on the Skywarn program can be found at our SkyWarn website.

Anyone over the age of 16 years can participate within the NWS WFO Boston area of responsibility. Simply attend a spotter training class in person. In-person classes in our region are usually held in the Spring; again, check our SkyWarn website for the latest schedule. After the class, you will be provided with an ID card with information about contacting the NWS Boston to provide severe weather reports. Your contact information will also be requested so that meteorologists can contact you about possible severe weather if it is believed there may have been some in your vicinity. After that, just keep an eye to the sky!

Cooperative Observing Program (COOP)

The COOP is the oldest volunteer observer program run by the National Weather Service (NWS). It forms the backbone of the nation's climate network. In this program, observers diligently record observations on a daily basis, consisting of precipitation, snowfall, high and low temperatures, as well as evaporation and soil temperatures at some sites. Data is sent by way of the internet or telephone to the local NWS office. Their data is distributed to the public by way of NWS products and is also archived at the National Centers for Environmental Information. Because of limited funding, participation in the COOP program is strictly on a needs basis as determined by the NWS.

If you would like to learn more about the COOP program, visit the NWS Boston COOP website. There you'll find information on how you can potentially become a Cooperative Observer.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network

CoCoRaHS (the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network) is a grassroots volunteer network made up of people of all ages and backgrounds who measure precipitation including rain, hail, and snow. Using an inexpensive 4-inch diameter rain gauge, volunteers figure out how much precipitation fell at their location each day, then they using the CoCoRaHS website to report their observations. CoCoRaHS originated with the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998 thanks in part to the Fort Collins flood a year prior. In the years since, CoCoRaHS now includes thousands of volunteers nationwide. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are major sponsors of CoCoRaHS.

Who can participate?ExpandCollapse

  • Weather enthusiasts
  • Farmers/gardners/naturalists
  • Teachers/students - CoCoRaHS can be a fun and effective learning tool!
  • Lake/reservoir managers
  • Construction workers and other outdoor occupations that are impacted by precipitation
  • Everyone! Anyone who is willing to check their rain gauge each day

How do I get started?ExpandCollapse

  • 1. Sign up at to provide your location and contact information.
  • 2. Obtain an inexpensive plastic 4" rain gauge. Information on where to get one can be found at
  • 3. View the online training materials (see the training section below)
  • 4. Setup your gauge in a good location. Click here for tips on where to install your gauge.
  • 5. Begin measuring precipitation and send in your reports each day through the CoCoRaHS website.

Why is CoCoRaHS important? How will my observations be used?ExpandCollapse

Rainfall amounts can vary tremendously over a short distance - by inches over a distance of just a few city blocks! While there are some rain gauges across the area providing data to us and weather radar can estimate how much rain has fallen in a particular spot, the best way for us to know how much rain has fallen is for several people to take actual rain gauge measurements. This data is important and is used in several ways. Some examples include ...
  • River forecasting: Rainfall data helps us forecast levels along area rivers, creeks, and lakes. CoCoRaHS data is used directly in these forecasts.
  • Flood warnings and forecasts: Rainfall data aids in the warning process by giving us an idea of how saturated the soil is and how much rain it would take to cause flooding in a particular area
  • Verification: Rainfall data gives us an idea of how accurately our radar is estimating precipitation amounts
  • Drought: Rainfall data over an extended period of time can help pinpoint areas being most affected by drought
  • Research: Rainfall data can be used by scientists to better understand the way the atmosphere works, which can lead to better forecasts and warnings
  • Other users: Farmers, gardeners, pest control, airports, emergency managers, city utilities, insurance adjusters, engineers, outdoor & recreation interests, teachers, students, and many more!

Training MaterialExpandCollapse

Need more information?ExpandCollapse

Send us an email to We would be happy to help you out any way we can!

Citizen Weather Observing Program (CWOP)

CWOP, the Citizen Weather Observer Program, is a nation-wide, volunteer-based observing program which allows persons with personal electronic weather stations to share their station's data with the National Weather Service (NWS), emergency managers, wildland firefighters, and universities worldwide. Data from weather stations on CWOP can be also be viewed by the public on various websites which display a wide variety of local weather stations, such as MesoWest. The data provided helps to verify warnings about high winds, heavy rain, extreme heat and severe cold.

If you are interested in participating in the Citizen Weather Observer Program, visit the official CWOP website.

Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground (mPing)

mPING is a project designed to collect weather information from the public through their smart phone or mobile device with GPS location capabilities. Using the free mPING app, anyone can submit a weather observation anonymously. The data immediately goes into a database at NSSL and is displayed on a map that is accessible to everyone. mPING was deployed in 2012 and developed through a partnership between NOAA/NSSL, the University of Oklahoma, and the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies.

More information on mPing can be found at the mPing website. To view the latest reports, check out the mPing display.