The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network is a nonprofit, community based, network of volunteers who measure and report rain, hail and snow in their backyards.
CoCoRaHS came about as a result of a devastating flash flood that hit Fort Collins, Colorado, in July 1997. A very localized storm dumped more than a foot of rain in several hours, while other portions of the city had only modest rainfall. The ensuing flood caught many by surprise, caused $200 million in damages and resulted in five deaths.
CoCoRaHS was born in 1998 with the intent of doing a better job of mapping and reporting intense storms. CoCoRaHS became a nationwide volunteer network in 2010 and is now international with observers helping provide critical precipitation observations, benefiting their country’s needs.
Individuals and family volunteers of all ages and all walks of life are the foundation of the CoCoRaHS network. Anyone can help. It takes only a few minutes to check the rain gauge and report observations.
It is important that all CoCoRaHS precipitation reports be accurate and consistent. Online training, which is key to the success of the program, is provided on how to install gauges, properly measure precipitation and transmit reports. After checking the gauge each morning at essentially the same time, volunteers report the amount, if any, on their computers or smart phones. If away on vacation, there is a place to add multi-day accumulations upon return.
Volunteers use simple measuring tools, such as high quality rain gauges. In some states, “hail pads” are used to study hail storms.
Why is there so much interest in rain, hail and snow? Precipitation is essential for life. It varies greatly with topography, storm type and season. It really is true that it may pour on one side of the street and be dry on the other. A portion of a field may be pounded by hail while others nearby receive no damage. Snowfall may pile up in one neighborhood and only dust another.
Rain, hail and snow are fairly easy to measure, and the data collected are very important. Meteorologists, hydrologists, engineers, builders, farmers — you name it — everyone seems to care about rain, hail and snow. That’s why we ask, “How much fell in your backyard?” Because every drop counts.
I have personally been involved with this program for several years. It is amazing how sometimes there is quite a difference to the amount measured in my gauge compared to a friend who lives just blocks away from me.
CoCoRaHS is a practical, enjoyable and useful activity. If you have an interest in weather and would like to help your local community, as well as scientists and others interested in precipitation, then CoCoRaHS is for you. It takes only a few minutes a day and gives you the chance to participate in real hands-on science. You’ll be amazed at what you learn as you become more aware of the variable weather that impacts you, your neighbors, your state and our entire country. All ages and locations welcome.
For further information, go to: https://www.cocorahs.org.
Judi Lloyd lives in River Bend and can be contacted at email@example.com.