Note to Editors: Photos and background on CoCoRaHS can be found at http://www.newsinfo.colostate.edu/.
CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network out of Colorado State University, will begin its 10th year with the addition of 10 states in 2008 including Louisiana, which will be announced at the American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting Jan. 20-24 in New Orleans.
Through CoCoRaHS, thousands of volunteers, young and old, document the size, intensity, duration and patterns of precipitation by taking simple measurements in their own backyards. Anyone with an interest in weather and access to the Internet can sign up. The only equipment needed is a cylindrical rain gauge available from the network for $22 plus shipping. Simple training is available at: http://www.cocorahs.org.
Each volunteer is asked to read the rain gauge each day at the same time and upload the measurement to the Web site. The process takes only five minutes a day, but the impact to the community is enormous: Data gathered by volunteers provides important daily and long-term decision-making information on drought and water supply for agricultural, recreation, utility providers, resource managers, teachers, scientists and homeowners.
The CoCoRaHS network now has more than 7,500 active volunteer observers in 27 states and plans on adding nine additional states during 2008: New Jersey, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Georgia, Utah, Washington State, Michigan, Mississippi and California.
The goal? To have 20,000 observers by late 2009.
"The addition of 10 new states during 2008 will bring a total of 36 states participating in the program across the nation," said Henry Reges, national coordinator for CoCoRaHS. "This gives us the chance to help provide the nation with more detailed information on local rainfall as well as educate the volunteers about precipitation patterns in their communities. We hope to get as many rain gauges as possible in backyards all around the country to help forecasters and climatologists map rain patterns."
Oregon began the program in December and quickly amassed a volunteer base of 450 observers in less than two months.
"We know that there are many, many decisions made every day that have to do with weather and climate and often with water," said George Taylor, director of Oregon’s Climate Service. "In the growing season it might be irrigation, in the wet season it might be the effect of drought, it might be water supply or streamflow forecasts or even floods. And by getting more high-resolution information we can really improve the database and therefore improve the quality of decisions that are made."
"Precipitation is perhaps the most important, but also the most highly variable element of our climate," said Nolan Doesken, Colorado’s state climatologist, who is based at Colorado State, and CoCoRaHS national director. "Rainfall amounts vary from one street to the next. It is wonderful having large numbers of enthusiastic volunteers and literally thousands of rain gauges to help track storms. We learn something new every day, and every volunteer makes a significant scientific contribution. Getting involved as a volunteer CoCoRaHS observer is a great way to give something back to your community by helping it monitor its natural resources. It’s a lot of fun as well."
Agencies assisting the network include NOAA’s National Weather Service, Conservation Districts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension and other state and federal natural resources organizations.
For information on CoCoRaHS, go to http://www.cocorahs.org/ or contact Henry Reges at: firstname.lastname@example.org.