PICKENS COUNTY — The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), is once again conducting its annual March contest to see which state can recruit the most volunteers to measure precipitation.
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) is asking for volunteers state-wide in gathering weather data which can be used by SCDNR Climatology, the U.S. National Weather Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
CoCoRaHS is a non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds who work together measuring and mapping precipitation including rain, hail and snow.
By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education and utilizing an interactive Web-site, their aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications.
They are currently active in all fifty states.
The network originated with the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998 thanks in part to the Fort Collins flood a year prior. In the years since, CoCoRaHS now includes thousands of volunteers nationwide.
So, how does it work?
Basically, each time a rain, hail or snow storm crosses an area, volunteers take measurements of precipitation from as many locations as possible. These precipitation reports are then recorded on a website where the data is displayed and organized for users to analyze and apply to daily situations ranging from water resource analysis and severe storm warnings to neighbors comparing how much rain fell in their backyards.
CoCoRaHS is used by a wide variety of organizations and individuals. The National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (water supply, water conservation, storm water), insurance adjusters, USDA, engineers, mosquito control, ranchers and farmers, outdoor and recreation interests, teachers, students and neighbors in the community are just some examples of those who visit the website and use the data.
The idea is that through collaboration, CoCoRaHS will be able to continue to provide accurate high-quality precipitation data for their users on a timely basis, while increasing the density of precipitation data available throughout the country by encouraging volunteer weather observing.
Additionally, the organization states encouraging citizens to have fun participating in meteorological science and heightening their awareness about weather is never a bad thing and as a bonus perk, they are able to provide enrichment activities in water and weather resources for teachers, educators and the community at large.
CoCoRaHS is supported by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) along with other organizations that have contributed either financially, and/or with supplies and equipment.
Why should people consider volunteering? Well, one of the neat things about participating in this network is coming away with the feeling of having made an important contribution that helps others, they said.
“By providing a daily observation, you can help to fill in a piece of the weather puzzle that affects many across your area in one way or another,” said a CoCoRaHS spokesperson. “Volunteers also will have the chance to make some new friends as you do something important and learn some new things along the way.”
For more information, or to sign up to volunteer, visit www.cocorahs.org.