Citizen Science Program Needs Your Help Observing The Weather!

RELAYED FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Do you ever wonder how much rainfall you received from a recent thunderstorm or snow from a winter storm?

An important volunteer weather observing program needs your help! The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS, is looking for new volunteers. The grassroots effort is part of a growing national network of home-based and amateur rain spotters with a goal of providing a high-density precipitation network that will supplement existing observations.

CoCoRaHS came about as a result of a devastating flash flood that hit Fort Collins, Colo., in July 1997. A local severe thunderstorm dumped over a foot of rain in several hours while other portions of the city had only modest rainfall. The ensuing flood caught many by surprise and caused $200 million in damages. CoCoRaHS was born in 1998 with the intent of doing a better job of mapping and reporting intense storms. As more volunteers participated, rain, hail, and snow maps were produced for every storm showing fascinating local patterns that were of great interest to scientists and the public.

Recently, drought reporting has also become an important observation within the CoCoRaHS program across the nation. In fact, drought observations from CoCoRaHS are now being included in the National Integrated Drought Information System.

By 2010, the CoCoRaHS network had reached all 50 states with nearly ten thousand observations being reported each day. Through CoCoRaHS, thousands of volunteers, young and old, document the size, intensity, duration and patterns of rain, hail, and snow by taking simple measurements in their own backyards.

Volunteers may obtain an official rain gauge through the CoCoRaHS website ( ) for about $33.00 (plus shipping and handling). Besides the need for an official 4-inch plastic rain gauge, volunteers are required to take a simple training module online and use the CoCoRaHS website or app to submit their reports.

Observations are immediately available on maps and reports for the public to view. The process takes fewer than five minutes a day, but the impact to the community is tenfold: By providing high quality, accurate measurements, the observers are able to supplement existing networks and provide useful results to scientists, resource managers, decision makers and other users.

“An additional benefit of the program to the National Weather Service is the ability to receive timely reports of significant weather (hail, intense rainfall, localized flooding) from CoCoRaHS observers that can assist forecasters in issuing and verifying warnings for severe thunderstorms,” says Anita Silverman, CoCoRaHS State Co-coordinator and meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va.

How does one become a CoCoRaHS observer? Click here. After registering, take the simple online training, order your 4-inch rain gauge and start reporting!

“We are in need of new observers across the entire region. We would like to emphasize rural locations and areas of higher terrain” added Silverman.

CoCoRaHS can also be reached on Facebook, X (Twitter), and YouTube.

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