Weather reporting volunteers needed for CoCoRaHS
A national volunteer network of precipitation observers or CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain Hail & Snow Network) is looking for more volunteers to track precipitation events across South Dakota, reported SDSU Extension State Climatologist and CoCoRaHS State Coordinator, Dennis Todey.
“These are everyday people who enjoy measuring precipitation and are willing to report that on the internet,” he says, of the volunteers who measure and report after rain, hail and snow events.
Despite today’s automated technology, Todey believes local reporting is still essential in tracking the variability of rainfall. For example, on July 15, 2013, an observer near Kennebec reported 4.18 inches, where the volunteers near the north and south borders of Lyman County reported just .20 inches.
“It’s a huge benefit to us to have people across the state who monitor precipitation. The biggest variability in weather across South Dakota is how precipitation differs from place to place. Even with all the technology we have, we really need to have on-ground measurements all across the state to tell us what is really happening on the ground,” he said. “Where we have heavy rain events, like flood events, the National Weather Service has issued flash flood warnings based on people’s reports on how much rain fall there was,” he said.
Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist and CoCoRaHS State Coordinator, says volunteer reports can also be useful in documenting drought conditions.
“If people can tell us how many days they’ve gone without rainfall, it helps us document drought conditions and better support disaster declaration because of drought,” she said.
Volunteers who are interested in joining the CoCoRaHS network must be willing to take daily precipitation readings between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and report the events on-line or by phone. There is a smartphone app for Android, and an app for Apple is coming soon. They are asked to use a standard 4-inch diameter rain gauge and will receive a small bit of training.
A March Madness recruiting campaign is now underway. To learn more and view an informative video trailer about CoCoRaHS, visit http://www.cocorahs.org or contact Todey at 605-688-5678.