Citizen science program needs your help observing the weather!
Submitted by Charles Kuster
Do you ever wonder how much rainfall you received from a recent thunderstorm? How about snowfall during a winter storm? If so, an important volunteer weather observing program needs your help! The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS, is looking for new volunteers across Oklahoma. The grassroots effort is part of a growing national network of observers with the goal of providing a high density precipitation network that will supplement existing observations such as those collected by the Oklahoma Mesonet.
Scientists in Colorado created CoCoRaHS in 1998 in response to a devastating flash flood that occurred in Ft. Collins, Colorado. In July of 1997, a thunderstorm produced about a foot of rain in only a few hours, while other portions of the city received only modest rainfall. The resulting flooding caught some by surprise, so CoCoRaHS was developed to better observe these localized extreme precipitation events. As more volunteers participated across the country, rain, snow, and hail maps were produced for every storm. These maps showed fascinating local patterns that were of great interest to scientists, decision makers, and the public.
In Oklahoma, we are no stranger to severe weather. In the past few years alone, the state has experienced record flooding, damaging hail, drought, and ice storms. More volunteer observers are needed to accurately map these extreme events as well as the day-to-day precipitation patterns across the state. In addition to reporting precipitation, observers now have the option to report drought impacts and these important observations are included into the National Integrated Drought Information System.
Participating in CoCoRaHS is fun and easy and thousands of volunteers—young and old—are documenting the size, intensity, and duration of storms across the country. The process only takes a few minutes and the data are immediately accessible online to everyone including the National Weather Service, water managers, agricultural groups, and the public. For more information about CoCoRaHS or if you are interested in participating, please visit www.cocorahs.org.
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