Volunteers sought to help measure rain, snow and hail


WALLA WALLA — Volunteers are being sought to help weather forecasters get a better picture of rainstorms, hailstorms and snowfalls.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network, needs people to measure precipitation and send in the data via the Internet. The measurements will help meteorologists and researchers study the variability of precipitation across the Inland Northwest.

According to a National Weather Service release, CoCoRaHS started in Firt Collins, Colo., in 1998 after a devastating flood. When researchers went back to look at the precipitation data, they found to their surprise that the rainfall had missed all the official gauges.

This led Colorado state climatologist, Nolan Doeskin, to develop a new volunteer observing network to fill the gaps between official gauges. He christened the network CoCoRaHS. The network has spread across the country and was introduced in Oregon on Dec. 1, 2007 and in Washington on June 1, 2008. The plan is to eventually have an observer, where possible, every square mile across each state.

Instructions are available online on how to join the network, what types of gauges are needed and how to set them up. Observations reported by participants will become part of the meteorological record and will also be plotted on maps of their county and state. Participants can view the maps and see how their observations fits in with others involved in CoCoRaHS across the country.

Teachers can also benefit from the program by using it to provide real science activities for the classroom.

Over the last several years CoCoRaHS staff have worked with science teachers in the Poudre, Colo., School District as well as a science teacher from Texas to develop lesson plans that are fun for students, teach basic concepts of meteorology and meet national science education standards. These lesson plans are developed for a variety of grade levels and are built around CoCoRaHS’s emphasis on measuring precipitation.


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