Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow network seeks volunteers to collect data

Tutorials for how to use the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network gauge and how to report data can be found on their website. A quick installation and just a few clicks could help researchers and agricultural and water planning professionals across the state.

Tutorials for how to use the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network gauge and how to report data can be found on their website. A quick installation and just a few clicks could help researchers and agricultural and water planning professionals across the state.

Do you ever wonder how much rainfall you received from a recent thunderstorm? How about snowfall during a winter storm? If you enjoy weather watching and have a few minutes a day to participate in an important research, you may be interested in helping the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS, is looking for new volunteers across Oklahoma, according to Charles Kuster with the Oklahoma CoCoRaHS program.

The grassroots effort is part of a growing national network of observers with the goal of providing a high density precipitation network that will supplement existing observations such as those collected by the Oklahoma Mesonet.

“There are some online training slideshows,” Kuster said. “There are also videos that go through the basics about how to measure each type of precipitation, whether it be rain or snow or freezing rain.” Those trainings are not a requirement to set up the gauge and start reporting, but Kuster said it is important that participants review them to help ensure the collection of good data. “The website was made to be relatively easy to navigate, so like the data entry form is is pretty simple. Just a couple clicks, and you’re there,” Kuster said. “And then just a couple fields to enter in and then you press submit and you’re done the whole process.”

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Scientists in Colorado created CoCoRaHS in 1998 in response to a devastating flash flood that occurred in Ft. Collins, Colorado. In July of 1997, a thunderstorm produced about a foot of rain in only a few hours, while other portions of the city received only modest rainfall. The resulting flooding caught some by surprise, so CoCoRaHS was developed to better observe these localized extreme precipitation events. As more volunteers participated across the country, rain, snow, and hail maps were produced for every storm. These maps showed fascinating local patterns that were of great interest to scientists, decision makers, and the public.

This program is, at its core, volunteers telling scientists of all kinds, as well as their neighbors, how much rain fell in their backyard, so researchers can use the information. “The National Weather Service looks at the information so forecaster can use it,” Kuster said. “Agricultural interests will use it to see how much rain is falling in the area where crops could be planted or are growing. Researchers predict reservoir levels and how much water might be available in a given dry or wet season. There are lots of different uses of the data that those volunteers will send in.”

In Oklahoma, we are no stranger to severe weather. In the past few years alone, the state has experienced record flooding, damaging hail, ice storms, and significant snowfall. However, there are gaps in scientist’s ability to measure these storms, so sometimes, important features are not observed. That is why more volunteer observers are needed to accurately map these extreme events as well as the day-to-day precipitation patterns across the state. In addition to reporting precipitation, observers now have the option to report drought impacts and these important observations are included into the National Integrated Drought Information System.

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Participating in CoCoRaHS is fun and easy and thousands of volunteers of all ages are documenting the size, intensity, and duration of storms across the country. After purchasing (one-time $35 cost) and setting up the rain gauge, the process only takes a few minutes each day and the data are immediately accessible online to everyone including the National Weather Service, water managers, agricultural groups, and the public. For more information about CoCoRaHS or if you are interested in participating, please visit www.cocorahs.org.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Ardmoreite: Community weather network seeks volunteers to collect data