Volunteer weather observation helps scientists track storms

May 18, 2011

Sponsored in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers.

With a presence in every state in the country, volunteers from all backgrounds work together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow) in their local communities. The data is used to help scientists across the country measure and track this very important and highly variable part of the climate system. By having thousands of volunteers nationwide providing precipitation data, scientists can track each storm system as it passes across the country and see how precipitation systems vary geographically, seasonally and inter-annually.

Many additional volunteers are needed to provide data for this long-term effort. CoCoRaHS provides training, education and an interactive website to which data is uploaded. It takes about five minutes a day to observe and upload data.

Volunteers can participate as much or as little as they wish. Individuals, groups and schools are welcome to participate. Currently volunteers range from kindergarteners to people in their 90s.

In addition to data collection, CoCoRaHS has many other opportunities for volunteers to become involved in this exciting project – locally, statewide and nationally.

To learn more or to sign up, please visit the CoCoRaHS website.

For additional questions, contact Nolan Doesken at the State Climatologist Colorado Climate Center, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523.  He can be reached by email at nolan@atmos.colostate.edu or by phone 970.491.3690.


CoCoRaHS Volunteers with gauges. Photo from CoCoRaHS' website.
CoCoRaHS Volunteers with gauges. Photo from CoCoRaHS' website.


By Chris M. Webb
Author - Technical Specialist