National Weather Service recruits storm watchers

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WALLA WALLA — Volunteers are being sought to help weather forecasters get a better picture of area 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 1998 after a devastating flood in Colorado. When researchers reviewed precipitation data, they discovered that the rainfall had missed their official gauges.

This led to development of a new volunteer observing network to fill the gaps between official gauges. The network has spread across the country and was introduced in Oregon in 2007 and in Washington in 2008.

The plan is to eventually have an observer, where possible, every square mile across each state.

Online instructions are available at cocorahs.org 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 past several years CoCoRaHS staff have worked with science teachers to develop lesson plans that are fun, teach basic concepts of meteorology and meet national science education standards.

Lesson plans are developed for a variety of grade levels and are built around measuring precipitation.

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