National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

We want to thank all of you who responded to the 2015 NWS Customer Satisfaction Survey.  You
provided us with many compliments and suggestions.  While we aren’t able to respond to you directly
(the survey was anonymous), we’d like to respond to a number of common themes.

What types of weather observations are available?

How do I get current RADAR information and have it update automatically?

How do I get detailed forecasts for my particular area?

How do I get long-range forecasts and climate predictions for my area?

Does the National Weather Service send out alerts for hazardous weather?

Where can I find more information on NOAA Weather Radio and what is broadcast?

How do I obtain past weather observations?

Where can I find information on previous storms?

How can I become a National Weather Service Weather Spotter?




What types of weather observations are available?

The National Weather Service utilizes a variety of weather observations and makes them available on
the web site.  These include standard hourly observations for New Hampshire and Maine, cooperative
observers, hydrological observers, CoCoRaHS observers and weather spotters.


The National Weather Service in Gray is responsible for observing equipment at Portland, Augusta,
Wiscasset, and Fryeburg in Maine; and Concord, Manchester, Rochester, Lebanon, Berlin, Jaffrey, and
Whitefield in New Hampshire.   

The FAA or other organizations maintain the equipment in Lewiston-Auburn, Rockland, Waterville,
Sanford, and Rangeley in Maine; and Laconia, Keene, Nashua, and Plymouth in New Hampshire.  Please
note that many of these site do not have a “present weather” sensor and therefore, do not report rain,
snow, ice pellets or freezing rain.

A listing of current hourly conditions can be found in our Regional Weather Roundup.



The National Weather Service also relies on observations from Cooperative and hydrological stations. 
These include daily reports of temperature, precipitation and weather conditions.  A daily summary of
the observations can be found in the Hydrological Observations product.



CoCoRaHS observers are volunteers that provide daily observations of precipitation.  These reports can
be found in our CoCoRaHS Precipitation Summary.  Information on how to become a CoCoRaHS
observer can be found at the CoCoRaHS web site.



Skywarn weather spotters provide information to the National Weather Service during and after storms. 
During the summer, most of the reports are of hail, strong winds, heavy rain, or storm damage.  During
the winter, weather spotters provide snowfall reports as well as reports of precipitation type.  During
storms, Skywarn reports are often included in Public Information Statements and Local Storm Reports.
Information on becoming a Weather Spotter can be found on our Skywarn Weather Spotter web site. 


How do I get current RADAR information and have it update automatically.

National Weather Service RADARs provide coverage across the entire U.S.  Depending on where you live
within our forecast area, the RADAR in Gray, Burlington (VT), Albany (NY), Taunton (MA), or Hodgdon
(ME) may provide the best coverage for your specific area.  In addition to looking at the specific RADARs,
a couple composite images are available (Northeast, whole U.S.).  In addition, you can loop the images
on the local RADARS or the Northeast composite to see movement. 

The Gray RADAR is available from the main web site by clicking on the RADAR button.  It can also be
accessed directly.  Initially, the radar image will be set to the latest base reflectivity image with auto-
update set to OFF.   In order to set the auto-update to ON, you must be in the looping mode (Click on
“loop” to the right of the image desired.   Then click on the  “AutoUpdate”  button (under the image) to
turn AutoUpdate to “On”.   Finally, you can zoom in or out of a particular area by left-clicking (zoom in)
or shift-left clicking (zoom out) of the area.

Below the local RADAR image, you’ll find sector image buttons that you can click on to get various
sectors of the U.S.  Sector images can also be looped (button under image) if they are not already
looping.  You can also get a full U.S. version (button above image).  Full resolution images can also be
looped (link above page).  Please note that neither sector images nor the full U.S. image will
automatically update.


How do I get detailed forecasts for my particular area?

We produce several different types of forecasts in a variety of formats. 

Zone forecastsZone forecasts worded forecasts that are produced for counties or for large portions of
counties.  Because each zone covers a large area which often encompasses a variety of terrain, the
forecast is somewhat an average for the area and may not always be representative of any particular
location within the zone.   In addition to the worded format, a tabular zone forecast is also produced for
each zone.   For a selected set of cities, tabular city forecasts are produced which provide specific
information for each city.

For most areas, the point-and-click forecast provides the most accurate worded forecast.  From our
main web site, simply click on your location.  After the initial click, the map on the right will allow you to
zoom in or out, and to pan across the map to get to your exact location.  This is particularly important in
mountainous terrain where elevations (and consequently the weather) vary considerably.

The most detailed forecast for a location can be obtained from the hourly weather graphs.  As with
the point-and-click forecasts, you first need to identify your exact location by clicking on a map.  After
doing so you can get hourly forecasts of temperature, dew point, relative humidity, wind chill, sky cover,
precipitation probability, wind speed, wind direction, and wind gusts.  In addition you can see the
forecast 6-hourly rainfall and snowfall amounts for the first 3 days.  Instructions on obtaining hourly
forecasts for your area can be found at: hourly weather graphs.


How do I get long-range forecasts and climate predictions for my area?

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction makes 6 to 10-day, 8 to 14-day, monthly, and
3-monthly outlooks. From the Climate Prediction Center web site, you can also find information on
El Nino and La Nina


Does the National Weather Service send out alerts for hazardous weather?

The National Weather Service sends out alerts for Watches and Warnings over NOAA Weather Radio. 
Third party companies make some of these alerts available to computers and phones.

In the State of Maine, you can sign up for various alerts (not just weather) though the
Maine Emergency Notification System (ENS).

In the State of New Hampshire, you can sign up for mobile alerts on your cell phone via the CodeRED
notification system at web site.


Where can I find more information on NOAA Weather Radio and what is broadcast?

Our local NOAA Weather Radio Web page provides information on our NOAA Weather Radio

Our policy is to issue Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) alerts for all Watches or Warnings issued
for the transmitter’s broadcast area.  In addition for New Hampshire, Watches and Warnings for other
areas may be transmitted because the broadcast studios and their transmitters may not be co-located. 
Weekly tests are carried out between 11 am and Noon on Wednesdays, but may be cancelled if there
are ongoing significant weather events.

Each State’s Emergency Communications Committee determines which of these alerts are carried on
commercial radio and television as part of the FEMA/FCC Emergency Alert System.


How do I obtain past weather observations?

There are a variety of ways to get past weather information based on the type of data you want and
how far back in time you need the data.  The easiest way to get past reports is to click on
Climate and Past Weather” on the main web page.

This will take you to a web site that provides links to many different data sources.  The most
comprehensive list of stations for which data can be found is located under the NOWData tab.  In
addition to raw data summaries, graphs can be created for certain data types.  



If you are looking for summaries of snowfall, rainfall, or wind observations from previous storms, the
information (when available) can be accessed by clicking on in the “Past Event Archive” (under the Local
Programs tab on the main web site).   Just under the table and to the right of the word “GO”, click on the
desired event date from the drop-down menu.

In addition, written summaries of storms reaching “Warning” criteria can be found on the National
Centers for Environmental Information (formally National Climatic Data Center) “Storm Events Database
web site.  Select the State you are interested in and click “Search”.   Then select the
information you are looking for and again click on “Search”.


How can I become a National Weather Service Weather Spotter?

Local weather observers are an essential part of the National Weather Service forecast and warning
program.  In order to become a Weather Spotter for the National Weather Service in Gray, residents of
New Hampshire and Western Maine are required to attend a two-hour training class. Training classes
are typically held during the spring and fall and are typically hosted by various organizations and open to
the public.  Our spotter training web page lists upcoming training classes.

You may also wish to become a CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow) observer. 
CoCoRaHS observers report rain and snow amounts to a national network on a daily basis.  Information
on CoCoRaHS observers is available on their web site.