Colorado State University Empowers K12 Schools to Help with Precipitation Monitoring Program

Note to Reporters: A brief video about CoCoRaHS can be seen on YouTube at A photo of Nolan Doesken is available with this release at

Colorado State University helped to bring donated rain gauges to schools across Colorado last year while training kids and teachers to use the scientific measurements in their classrooms. This year, the school program has gone nationwide with more than 500 schools already participating.

Colorado State’s volunteer precipitation monitoring network – created by CSU state climatologist Nolan Doesken after the devastating 1997 Spring Creek flood in Fort Collins – assists meteorologists and scientists nationwide by gathering accurate data on precipitation, which can vary within one community or even one block.

The program, called the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, or CoCoRaHS, now boasts over 19,000 volunteers in all 50 United States and in Canada.

Teachers interested in obtaining a gauge and learning how to participate at their school should contact for more information.

CoCoRaHS will host a special “Rain Gauge Week,” Sept. 10-16, to encourage participating schools to report their rainfall amounts each day for one week.

"The best way that I can think of to begin to learn about water is to start measuring how much precipitation falls in your own community,” said Doesken, who also is director of the Colorado Climate Center and oversees the historic Fort Collins weather station with 125 year of continuous climate data. "By comparing rainfall from one place to another and from one storm to the next, we all quickly learn where our water comes from and how much or how little we have."

“This is real science in the classroom and the data provided by these students are useful to scientists and engineers, both locally and across the country,” said Noah Newman, the climate center’s education coordinator who works with Doesken.

“Besides science, it gets into mathematics and geography and it’s a good opportunity for schools to compare each other’s data,” Newman said. “That’s the great thing about being part of a network.”

Nationally, data collected by CoCoRaHS volunteers has helped predict flooding on the Missouri River, track the movement of West Nile Virus across the country and verify satellite data on crop health, among other things.

CoCoRaHS was honored last year with a major national award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities for the West region. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration honored Doesken as one of 10 "Environmental Heroes" nationally for creating the network.

The National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, have provided financial support for CoCoRaHS.

For more information, contact Newman at