Citizen Scientists Needed to Observe Rain, Snow in N.D. |

Citizen Scientists Needed to Observe Rain, Snow in N.D.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network needs volunteers to collect precipitation information. (NDSU photo)

This is North Dakotans’ opportunity to become part of the state’s climatological history.

A nationwide citizen science network is looking for volunteers for rain and snow reporting in North Dakota.

These observers will measure rainfall, snowfall and snow depth as part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) Network. Some observers also measure the water equivalent of the snow after it melts.

“This is your chance to become part of the state’s climatological history,” says Adnan Akyuz, state climatologist and professor of climatological practices at North Dakota State University.

North Dakotans have been collecting precipitation (rainfall and snowfall) data since the early 1900s in most places. When farmers, engineers, and weather and river forecasters ask for precipitation data for a given location, that information mostly comes from volunteer observers.

“Providing that data is fun and easy, and only takes five minutes a day,” Akyuz says.

North Dakota has more than 300 such volunteer precipitation observers.

“However, it is not nearly enough,” Akyuz says. “We need as many volunteer observers as possible around the state to help forecast flood potential, as well as drought assessments.

“Don’t worry if you do not know how to do all that,” he adds. “We have a lot of training materials for you to become an observer. All you need is an interest in weather to participate in the program and a cylindrical rain gauge.”

In your neighborhood, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds already may be measuring precipitation in their own backyards as part of the CoCoRaHS Network. It has grown to more than 15,000 volunteer observers covering every state.

Many professions and organizations, including meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities, insurance adjusters, agribusinesses, engineers, science teachers and the National Weather Service, routinely view and use data from CoCoRaHS Network volunteers. Data are used for many applications, such as water resource planning, severe storm warnings, teaching earth science, predicting crop yields and assessing hail damage.

“We need precipitation data this spring more than ever to better assess the likelihood of the 2017 drought extending into 2018 and the chance for spring flooding in the Red River,” Akyuz says.

To volunteer for the CoCoRaHS network, go to

–NDSU Extension