How much rain fell in your hometown overnight? How much snow fell during yesterday's winter storm? Would you like to share the weather information you record in your backyard with others in your community, as well as those who need weather data at the regional, state and national level?
The Minnesota State Climatology Office and the National Weather Service are looking for volunteers to collect and report daily rainfall and snowfall data across Minnesota as part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, better known as CoCoRaHS.
Observers can also share significant weather reports such as hail and flooding via CoCoRaHS to help document the effect adverse weather is having on their local community in real time.
Dec. 1, Minnesota officially joined the CoCoRaHS network, which has over 12,000 volunteers nationwide. Minnesotans of all ages and backgrounds can join this rapidly growing network, playing an active role in meteorological reporting and research. All that is needed is a rain gage, a ruler, and an interest in weather. Training is provided free of charge, and is available online, via phone or e-mail, or in a group setting.
Volunteers use an interactive Web site to provide precipitation data for a variety of applications. The National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (water supply, water conservation, storm water), insurance adjusters, USDA, engineers, natural resource managers, mosquito control, farmers, outdoor and recreation interests, teachers, students, and neighbors in the community are just some examples of those who use CoCoRaHS data.
Minnesota has been a pioneer in starting grass-roots volunteer precipitation observing networks. The CoCoRaHS network compliments several other climate networks which already exist across Minnesota. These include the National Weather Service Cooperative Observing Network and the MNgage Minnesota-area Volunteer Climate Observing Program. This new partnership with CoCoRaHS will allow even more citizens to share locally gathered information to help meet the important need of near-real time precipitation data.
CoCoRaHS was started by Colorado State University after a devastating flash flood that occurred in Fort Collins, Colo. in 1997. Record-breaking rain fell in an area where no official rain gages were located. This event prompted a search for ways to improve the density of near-real time precipitation data.
Precipitation can vary widely across Minnesota. Thunderstorms can drop very heavy rain in one area, while locations just a few miles away remain dry. Even snowfall totals can vary greatly from one end of a county to the other. Having a greater density of precipitation reports across Minnesota will assist greatly with determining the impact of storms, and gauging the severity of droughts or floods. The addition of just a few CoCoRaHS observers within a given county will create a more complete picture of the weather.