National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - National Severe Storms Laboratory



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120 David L. Boren Blvd.
Norman, OK 73072
United States

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The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) is a federal research laboratory under NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

NSSL's research spans weather radar, tornadoes, flash floods, lightning, damaging winds, hail, and winter weather.

NSSL is located in the National Weather Center (NWC) in Norman, Oklahoma. The NWC houses a unique combination of University of Oklahoma, NOAA and state organizations that work together to improve understanding of weather.

NSSL has a strategic research partnership with the University of Oklahoma's Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS), one of NOAA's joint institutes. CIMMS enables NSSL and university scientists to collaborate on research areas of mutual interest and facilitates the participation of students and visiting scientists.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory serves the nation by working to improve the lead-time and accuracy of severe weather warnings and forecasts in order to save lives and reduce property damage. NSSL scientists are committed to their mission to understand the causes of severe weather and explore new ways to use weather information to assist National Weather Service forecasters and federal, university and private sector partners.

At NSSL, our basic and applied research focuses on understanding severe weather processes, developing weather observation technology, and improving forecast tools, with emphasis on:

  • Weather Radar
  • Hydrometeorology
  • Forecast & Warning Improvements


The National Severe Storms Laboratory serves to enhance NOAA's capabilities to provide accurate and timely forecasts and warnings of hazardous weather events. NSSL accomplishes this mission through research to advance the understanding of weather processes, research to improve forecasting and warning techniques, and development of operational applications. NSSL transfers new scientific understanding, techniques, and applications to the National Weather Service (NWS).

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Citizen scientists around the world, not just those in the United States, can now submit weather observations and view reports on the go using the newly upgraded mPING smart phone application. Developers from NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and the University of Oklahoma’s Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies announced the app’s expanded reach and utility Monday during the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Since its launch in December 2012, mPING (meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground) has received nearly a million weather reports on U.S.-based weather events including rain, snow, ice, wind, hail, tornadoes, floods, landslides, fog and dust storms. These reports are used to improve forecasts related to road maintenance, aviation operations and public warnings.

Now, users around the world and outside the continental U.S. can participate in mPING and see their reports. The updated interface is user-friendly and available globally. New features include multi-language support, with 11 languages currently available. Additionally, the app design has been refined for both iOS and Android devices, allowing for greater consistency and precision.

Use of mPING data is expanding as well. NOAA National Weather Service forecasters now have access to mPING observations on their office workstations. This means NWS forecasters will be able to overlay mPING reports with other data such as radar and satellite observations to aid them in their decision-making.

The ability to submit and display in other, independent applications is now possible as well. Television stations and private weather companies have the opportunity to build the ability to submit and display mPING submissions in their own branded applications, making the information available to the public in new ways.

“These are exciting times! The improvements make the app even more useful for researchers and forecasters as well as anyone who wants to know about the weather,” said Kim Elmore, CIMMS research scientist working at NSSL, who leads the project with CIMMS scientists Jeff Brogden and Zac Flamig.

The mPING app has been cited as a successful example of citizen science. It was included in Scientific American’s list of “8 Apps That Turn Citizens into Scientists,” and the White House’s “Federal Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Toolkit.” The official web page for mPING can be found here.


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