The CoCoRaHS WxTalk Webinar Series
CoCoRaHS kicked off a new and exciting monthly Webinar series in December 2011. It's called 'CoCoRaHS WxTalk' (wx is shorthand for weather). CoCoRaHS WxTalk consists of a series of monthly one-hour interactive Webinars featuring engaging experts in the fields of atmospheric science, climatology and other pertinent disciplines. These easy to follow presentations are live and approximately sixty minutes long. The audience will be given the chance to submit questions too!
Potential topics include: Hurricanes, Lightning, Clouds, Tornadoes, Hail, Flash Floods, Fire Weather, The Day in the life of a Forecaster, Broadcast Meteorology, Application of Climate, Snow, Rivers and Hydrology, What it's like to write books on Weather and Climate, Atmospheric Optics, Radar, Air Pollution, Climate Change, Temperature, Meteorological Instruments, Weather and Health, Weather History, Satellites, and others yet to be named.
CoCoRaHS WxTalk Webinars are free.
*Although headphones are a good way of listening to the Webinars, only a set of speakers is required to hear the Webinar. The audience will be muted so there is no need for a microphone. All incoming correspondence during the Webinar should be in typed form.
Upcoming WxTalk Webinars:
Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 11AM MDT
Monitoring the Earth's Climate
Deke Arndt, NOAA/National Climatic Data Center,
Asheville, North Carolina
"Monitoring the Earth's climate involves taking today's observations and comparing them with decades to centuries of past observations, and drawing conclusions from these comparisons. At NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, Climate Monitoring is an activity that involves detecting climate change, and designing the indicators that help us do so. But it also involves tracking the week-to-week and month-to-month conditions that more directly impact our lives: drought, heat spells, wet spells in the United States and beyond.
This presentation is designed to help CoCoRaHS observers understand about major climate monitoring efforts going on in NOAA, and how their data fits in! We will review the do's and dont's of climate monitoring, and how datasets are used in the process. We'll also look into recent trends and findings about the state of our climate system and how these may or may not relate to climate change."
Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 11AM MDT
Rainwater Harvesting - Catching and Using It
Billy Kniffen, Vice President and Education Coordinator, American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA), Menard, TX
"This month's Webinar will discuss the process used to collect rainwater from a rain barrel to whole house to commercial size installations. We will discuss the sizing requirements, conveyance, collection tanks, per-filtration/screening, and delivering the water when needed by bgoth gravity and pump pressure. We will discuss supply and demand and finally use of rainwater for irrigation, pets, wildlife, water features and in-home potable and non-potable use."
Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 11AM MDT
"Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane prediction and the forecast for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season"
Phil Klotzbach, Bill Gray, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
"The methodology behind Colorado State University's seasonal hurricane forecasts will be discussed. The initial outlook for the 2013 hurricane season will also be presented. New techniques for issuing two-week forecasts and Caribbean basin forecasts will be examined, and the causes of observed multi-decadal variability in Atlantic basin hurricane activity will be proposed."
Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 11AM MDT
The Hundred Hunt for the Red Sprite
Walt Lyons, FMA Research, Inc., Fort Collins, CO
"This presentation will document one of the most unexpected scientific findings in the atmosphere during the late 20th century… the discovery of the red sprite (http://www.sky-fire.tv/index.cgi/Sprites.html). For over a century, people, including well respected scientists, had reported seeing strange lights in the night sky about thunderstorms - and they were. But it remained for a “happy accident” in 1989 when the first such event was captured on a low-light camera’s video tape. One researcher exclaimed it was as if Biology had just suddenly discovered a new human body part. Since then, an entire “zoo” of luminous creatures have been found in the thin air above thunderstorms. And the discoveries are still being made. We will discuss how the public can become engaged in the search for new thunderstorm related electrical phenomena. After the presentation, you can also take the online "Sprite Quiz" and receive your score and a certificate of completion! " (http://www.sky-fire.tv/index.cgi/Sprites.html)
Thursday, October 11, 2013 at 11AM MDT
Stephen Burt, England
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 11AM MST
Weather Modification: Does the seeding of clouds enhance precipitation? An old question revisited
Bart Geerts, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
"Back in the 1960’s through 1980’s, much research was conducted into advertent modification of weather. The Weather Channel’s recent documentary series “Hacking the Planet” gives a good survey of the ideas that were tested back then. Federal support for this work essentially ceased some 25 years ago in the US, not because of environmental or ethical concerns, but rather because of the difficulty of signal detection in the “noise’ of natural variability. Amidst this state of uncertainty, commercial interests in the United States and across the world have continued to invest in cloud seeding, mainly to increase precipitation.
In recent years the State of Wyoming has embarked on an ambitious project, the Wyoming Weather Modification Pilot Project. This is the most rigorous effort to date to determine the impact of ground-based glaciogenic cloud seeding on snowfall over Wyoming’s mountains. New observational tools and high-performance computing power now exist to revisit this old question. This talk will explain the basic physics behind weather modification, and it will survey cloud seeding efforts from the early days to the recent revival."
Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 11AM MST
Climate Change and Health
Chief, Bacterial Diseases Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, NCEZID
Centers for Disease Control, Fort Collins, CO
Previous CoCoRaHS WxTalk Webinars
(click on a YouTube icon below to view a previous WxTalk Webinar)
Webinar #1 - December 20, 2011
Snow, love it , hate it . . . it still falls on us all!
Nolan Doesken - Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
David Robinson - Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
"Many people love snow. Others hate it. David Robinson (Rutgers University) and Nolan Doesken (Colorado State University) have each been fascinated with snow for their entire lives and will share some of their knowledge and experiences with the CoCoRaHS community. Topics that will be covered include 1) snowfall patterns across the US, 2) snowcover over the Northern Hemisphere, 3) Seasonal snowfall patterns 4) major snowstorms 5) the density of fresh snow and how/why it varies so much, and 6) trends in snowfall over the past century. Finally, both speakers will address why CoCoRaHS snowfall observations are so useful and important."
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/c6-8os3Xir8
- February 9, 2012
Remote sensing: How weather satellites sense the earth
- Naval Research Laboratory, Monterrey, CA
"The US public is typically informed of daily weather from either TV newscasts or internet outlets, where glossy colored movie loops of clouds over land and water compliment the forecasters analyses and predictions. But beyond that, there's so much more weather information that satellites provide there are also plenty of different weather satellite sensors, and the technology in this field is accelerating. This presentation will introduce and hopefully entice folks with little or no science background to understand the exciting world of weather satellite sensing. Part of this talk will also address CoCoRaHS members - by relating the daily rainfall (and snowfall) reports to the atmosphere that sits above them."
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/_xYl_v-bTVU
February 16, 2012
Who Uses Weather and Climate Data and How Do They Do It?
- Midwest Regional Climate Center (Retired), Champaign, Illinois
"The constant changes in the ocean of air we live in affect everyone.
Weather and climate information is used for a decision as mundane as
“What do I wear today?” to multi-million dollar business decisions.
Data collected from a variety of networks, including CoCoRaHS, are
important to a wide variety of users, including government agencies,
businesses, and the general public. This Webinar will highlight some the
typical and not so typical uses of weather and climate data and will
demonstrate the contributions of CoCoRaHS observations.
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/EZiLSBWSiLE
- Thursday, March 8, 2012
Understanding and Identifying Clouds
- NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
Subtopics to be covered during the Webinar will include the following:
1) How clouds form and dissipate
2) How to identify the ten basic types of clouds (illustrated with numerous photos)
3) How thunderstorm clouds can grow so tall
4) Quick quiz on basic cloud types (self-graded; answers explained)
5) Question and answer session
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/LUaxGOQS9x0
How We Name Clouds - handout
Webinar #5 - Thursday, April 12, 2012
Flash Floods: It's More Than a Bunch of Rain
Matt Kelsch - UCAR/COMET, Boulder, Colorado
"Flash Floods are one of the deadliest of all
weather phenomena. Flash floods are not purely meteorological event.
They involve important components of both meteorology and hydrology,
which makes them hydrometeorology events. Rainfall amounts, and in
particular the rainfall rates, are the important meteorological
contributors to flash floods. Then what happens to all the rainwater
once it is on the ground--the hydrology--is equally important.
This talk will examine the key characteristics of the rainfall and the
hydrologic response that affects the locations, timing and severity of
flash floods. We will talk about short-term bursts of intense rainfall
and the importance of ground surface conditions, including conditions
such as soil saturation, steep drainages, urban development, and
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/0s_c4lXFioQ
Webinar #6 - Thursday, May 3, 2012
Lightning and Its Impacts
View Ron's Powerpoint presentation slides (18MB)
Ronald L. Holle - Holle Meteorology & Photography, Oro Valley, Arizona
"About 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes hit the surface of
the United States every year. These flashes are well detected in the
U.S. and many other countries by national lightning detection
technology. In addition, other specialized regional networks detect
many more cloud flashes that can extend over 100 km in length across the
sky. Continuing advances in extremely long-range lightning detection
are showing lightning over remote oceans and land masses around the
Every cloud-to-ground lightning strike is fully capable of causing
casualties and damages. For this reason, lightning data are used in
forestry, utilities, aviation, weather services, military, industrial,
recreation, media, and insurance applications. The activity, location,
time trends, and medical issues of lightning casualties will be
described. The talk will conclude with a set of updated lightning
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/Ek_PXi2j8Is
NOAA's Lightning Safety Page: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/
Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Surviors International, Inc. (LSESSI)
Webinar #7 - Thursday, June 14, 2012
Hurricane Analysis and Prediction at the National Hurricane Center
Chris Landsea - NOAA/NWS/National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida
"The National Hurricane Center issues analyses,
forecasts, and warnings over large parts of the North Atlantic and
Pacific Oceans, and in support of many nearby countries. Advances in
observational capabilities, operational numerical weather prediction,
and forecaster tools and support systems over the past 15–20 yr have
enabled the center to make more accurate forecasts, extend forecast lead
times, and provide new products and services. Important limitations,
however, persist. This presentation discusses the current workings and
state of the nation’s hurricane warning program, and highlights recent
improvements and the enabling science and technology. It concludes with a
look ahead at opportunities to address challenges."
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/Xy9cvReqJIA
National Hurricane Center Website: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
Webinar #8 - Thursday, July 19, 2012
Wind and Wildfire - A Dangerous Combination
Liz Page - UCAR/COMET, Boulder, Colorado
Wildfire spread can be erratic and challenging to predict. Fire
behavior is controlled by three components of the fire environment:
weather, fuels, and topography. We will look how each of these
components is inter-related when diagnosing fire behavior. Through
examples of historic wildfires from locations across the country, we
will explore what determines fire season and the critical fire weather
patterns that contribute to extreme fire behavior.
We will also talk about the forecasters that provide weather information
to the people fighting the fires. These Incident Meteorologists are
highly trained and experienced forecasters who play a vital role in the
decisions made to contain wildfires and protect people and property
threatened by the fire.
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/zKrr-Xw8pcg
COMET Fire Weather Topics Page
NWS Fire Weather Site
Current Wildfires from USDA Forest Service
Experts Explain How Waldo Canyon Fire Moved Downhill
Fire Regions and Seasons
Webinar #9 - Thursday, August 23, 2012
Extreme Rainfall, How We Analyze It and How The Data is Used
Bill Kappel - Applied Weather Associates, Monument, Colorado
This webinar will detail the 200 plus extreme rainfall analyses we have
completed over the past 10 years. This will include how the storm
analyses are completed, how rainfall data is gathered and used, and what
the results of the analyses look like. Further, information about who
uses this information and how it is used will be discussed. Special
topics to be discussed include: Probable Maximum Precipitation-what is
it, how is it derived-who uses it; Hurricane Irene bucket survey process
and results, unique characteristics of rainfall during the Southwest
Monsoon, Atmospheric River storms along the West Coast, differences in
rainfall characteristics of extreme storms along the Front Range versus
the Midwest, and the importance of accurate COCORAHS data.
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/8vtJILNIjJ4
Take a look back at the world record rainfall in Smethport, PA in 1942, 30.80" in just 4.5 hours. Here's the link: http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~nese/wxyz_Jul1812_SmethportRevisited.mp4
Applied Weather Associates
Metstat, Inc-real-time precip/ precip frequency data
NWS PMP and Precip Frequency Documents
NWS Precipitation Archive/Current Data (Daily)
NWS Precipitation Archive/Current Data (Hourly/Daily)
Webinar #10 - Thursday, September 20, 2012
So You Want to Become a Meteorologist?
Dave Changnon - Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
This webinar will provide an overview what you should consider as you
think about becoming a meteorologist. Whether you are in high school,
thinking of a second career or have always wondered what does it take to
become a meteorologist, this webinar is for you.
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/_Ry9vae-SWo
"So You Want To Be A Meteorologist?" - Short Document
Webinar #11 - Thursday, October 18, 2012
When Howling Wolves Greet the Northern Lights
Jan Curtis - USDA/NRCS, Portland, Oregon
This webinar will provide an overview of the northern lights (aurora
borealis). You will learn: Where do they come from? Where can they be
seen? Can they be predicted? How high are they? Can you hear them?
What is the most common color? Aurora come in various forms and their
evolution follow a typical pattern. Examples of the best northern
lights will be shown (taken by Jan over an eight year period from
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/sHoFMbHkXLM
Slide Shows: (my complete weather, astronomy and aurora collection)
http://vimeo.com/30412994 - Sequence
http://vimeo.com/30412341 - Rays
http://vimeo.com/29356071 - Curtains
http://vimeo.com/28250414 - Energetic
http://vimeo.com/28088983 - Favorites
http://vimeo.com/27798628 - General
Webinar #12 - Thursday, November 8, 2012
Weather Optics - "There are more 'bows' in the sky than just rainbows"
Grant Goodge - Earth Resources Technology, Inc., Laurel, Maryland
This webinar will provide an overview of weather optics and will show many examples of these wonderful phenomena.
"If one takes time to look there are many
beautiful displays of light that are formed by the light bent as it
passes through or reflected from both rain drops and ice crystals. Most
of these are seen during the day, but some are also seen at night when
the moon is more than half full. Even though the Northern Lights are
not produced from sunlight or moonlight, they can also bring great
pleasure to the observer.
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/YsAMczq79nA
Atmospheric Halos (2006) -- Walter Tape and Jarmo Molianen
Rainbows, Halos and Glories (1980) -- Robert Greenler
Clouds of the World (1972) -- Richard Scorer
Field Guide to North American Weather (1991) -- David Ludlum
Wild About Weather (2004) -- Edward Brotak
The Snowflake, Snowflakes and Field Guide to Snowflakes (2003) -- Kenneth Libbrecht
The Weather Book (1997) -- Jack Williams (USA Today
Webinar #13 - Thursday, December 13, 2012
Historic Winter Season Weather Events : What's the best of the worst.....
Paul Kocin - NOAA/NWS/Hydrologic Prediction Center, College Park, MD
"Many meteorologists, weather observers, enthusiasts and students are
fascinated by weather extremes, whether it be hurricanes, tornadoes and
in my case, winter storms.
In particular, winter storms have driven me for much of my life and have
led to a career studying, writing and trying to understand what makes
these big storms develop, how well we can forecast them, and what makes
them so interesting. While my focus has been on the eastern United
States, since that is where I grew up, I would like to present some
examples of some of the biggest winter weather events on record, from
the legendary Blizzard of 1888, the Appalachian Storm of November 1950
as well as a brief summary of October 2012's Superstorm Sandy, which
morphed from a tropical hurricane to one in which its identity as a
hurricane/winter storm was not quite so straight forward with few
The impacts of these storms make for some compelling stories, both from
their huge impacts as well as changes that have occurred in our ability
as scientists to forecast them in advance. These are the stories I'd
like to tell."
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/G1N9vxgFffY
Northeast Snowstorms (Volume I: Overview, Volume II: The Cases) - Paul J. Kocin
Louis W. Uccellini
Webinar #14 - Thursday, January 17, 2013
Flavors of Climate variability: El Nino, La Nina and Recurring Jet Stream patterns
Gerry Bell, NOAA/CPC, College Park, MD
"This presentation is designed to introduce several major climate
phenomena that strongly influence our weather throughout the year,
sometimes for decades at a time. Some of these climate patterns are
linked to recurring jet stream patterns and are called teleconnections.
Another climate phenomenon (El Niño) is linked to tropical Pacific sea
surface temperature and rainfall patterns, while yet another is linked
to Atlantic sea surface temperature patterns. The nature of these
various climate phenomena will be described, and their importance for
weather in the U.S. and elsewhere will be shown. The manner in which
various combinations of climate factors interact, along with aspects of
their predictability, will also be discussed."
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/-DhncrxbAiE
View Gerry Bell's presentation slides (3.3MB)
Climate Prediction Center website -
El Nino/ La Nina pages -
Daily Teleconnections -
Atlantic Hurricanes -
Webinar #15 - Thursday, February 7, 2013
"Educated Echoes: An Introduction to Doppler and Dual-polarization Weather Radar"
Pat Kennedy, CHILL Radar, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
"Weather radar images showing the geographic
distribution and intensity of precipitation are routinely distributed
via both broadcast television and the internet. These images have
historically been based on the strength of the received radar signal
(the “echo”). Recent technological advances have expanded the range of
measurements that can be made by National Weather Service (NWS) radars.
These enhanced measurements include radial (Doppler) velocity as well
as several additional quantities that have become available through the
ongoing NWS upgrade to dual-polarization operations. This talk will
provide a basic introduction to the measurements made by
dual-polarization Doppler weather radars. Example observations
collected by the National Science Foundation-sponsored CSU-CHILL radar
will be presented."
View Pat Kennedy's presentation slides (6.2MB)
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/fRp0F5Knr6s
Webinar #16 - Thursday, March 7, 2013
"I before E" Except in Drought
Mark Svoboda, NDMC, Lincoln, NE
Drought is one of the least understood, yet most costly of all
disasters. This talk will focus on how all droughts are local and how
their impacts affect us and the environment around us. Impacts are the
face of drought and they expose our vulnerability to this unique hazard.
Special attention will be paid to drought early warning and information
systems and the integral role networks such as CoCoRaHS play in feeding
useful information to those in decision support and policy making.
Tools of the trade will be explored to look into the
state-of-the-science in tackling drought in the U.S. in a proactive
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/604WhTxkvsM
Webinar #17 - Thursday, April 18, 2013
Forecasting the Ferocious: The How, What, Where and Why of Tornadoes
Greg Carbin, NOAA/Storm Prediction Center, Norman, OK
"Greg will give an overview of how the Storm Prediction Center
forecasts severe weather in general and then concentrate on tornado
forecasting specifically. We can learn a lot by looking at the historic
record of tornado events in the United States. We also will take a look
at why tornadoes form where they do in the U.S. and elsewhere and why
twisters are much more common in North America compared to other parts
of the world. We’ll finish by looking at the current events during the
spring of 2013 and take a look at what’s ahead in terms of tornado
forecasting and warning technology."
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/q2jqX12rU_k
View Greg Carbin's presentation slides
Storm Prediction Center Website:
What's a Watch:
Nova's "Deadliest Tornadoes":
Webinar # 18 - Thursday, May 9, 2013
At the Cutting Edge: Harry Wexler and the Emergence of Atmospheric Science
Jim Fleming, Colby College, Waterville, ME
"This presentation tells the story of the emergence of the new
interdisciplinary field of atmospheric science in the twentieth century
as shaped by the influences of multiple technologies. It does so from
the perspective of MIT-trained meteorologist Harry Wexler (1911-1962),
an American student of the Bergen School of air mass analysis, head of
research in the US Weather Bureau, and one of the most influential
meteorologists of the twentieth century, whose career spanned the middle
decades of the twentieth century.
In the first four decades of the twentieth century, aviation, radio
communication and remote sensing, and the needs of two world wars
dramatically re-shaped and expanded the meteorological enterprise.
During the Cold War era, new technologies involving atomic energy,
digital computing, rocketry and satellites provided meteorologists with
powerful tools to study the atmosphere and precipitated fundamental
changes in the older traditions of aeronomy, climatology, and weather
analysis and forecasting.
Much is to be learned by examining the nexus of new techniques and
technologies in the early and middle decades of the twentieth century as
they contributed to the transformation of meteorological science,
service, and practice into a new synthetic field called “atmospheric
science.” Yet the story of the emergence of atmospheric science is so
complex, dauntingly so, that it has never been told in its entirety. By
telling the story through Wexler’s eyes, a more personal story can be
View the Webinar by clicking here: http://youtu.be/O-MqY0y1rt8
Jim's historical books: http://www.amazon.com/James-Rodger-Fleming/e/B001H6S3B4