Center at Colorado State University to Collaborate with Community Weather Enthusiasts

The Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University invites Fort Collins and Loveland community members of all ages to take part in a rain and hail research project this summer.

The volunteer project, now in its second year, gives students age 10 and older and adult weather enthusiasts an opportunity to learn about weather and weather hazards while contributing to scientific research. Participants in the Colorado Collaborative Rain and Hail Study, COCORaHaS, will measure rain and hail from summer storms, and will be invited to attend presentations, field trips and a final summer celebration.

Interested community members are invited to attend an information meeting at 7 p.m. April 20 in the Columbine Room of the Fort Collins Lincoln Center, 417 West Magnolia St. At the meeting, project organizers will discuss details of the project and volunteer sign- up will begin.

"Last year’s project was a big success," said Nolan Doesken, researcher at Colorado State and assistant state climatologist. "Our team of dedicated volunteers was enthusiastic about learning, and their work provided valuable data that has been suitable for scientific research.

"The project pointed to some surprising weather patterns, and documented how variable Colorado weather can be. This year, the project has been expanded to allow more people to participate and to obtain data from an even broader area along the Front Range."

Each time a rain or hailstorm crosses the area this summer, volunteers will take measurements with rain gauges and special Styrofoam pads that measure hail stone impact. Last summer, more than 100 volunteers, including students from 37 area schools, measured rain and hail from their homes and reported data to the Colorado Climate Center. Organizers hope to have several hundred northern Colorado volunteers this summer.

Student participation in research will continue to be an important part of the project. Several high school students will be selected to help lead the project.

The data collected by last year’s participants can be found on the Internet at Scientists are studying the data to learn how storms developed and moved across the region and how images from weather radar relate to weather observed on the ground.

Supporters of this year’s program include city of Fort Collins Utilities; USDA – Agricultural Research Service; Colorado State CHILL National Radar Facility; Mountain States Weather Services; Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station; National Weather Service; Colorado Water Conservation Board; USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board; USDA Cooperative State Research, Extension and Education Service; University of Northern Colorado; Weld County Cooperative Extension; Adams County Cooperative Extension; the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere; Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District; and the city of Loveland Water Utilities.

For more information about volunteering or sponsoring the study, call Doesken at (970) 491-8545.