April 2012  

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network
(CoCoRaHS) Seeks Volunteers to Track Rainfall

About the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS)

In July 1997, a devastating flash flood dumped more than 12 inches of rain on sections of Fort Collins, Colo., resulting in $200 million in damage. In 1998, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) was launched at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University with the goal of making improvements in the mapping and reporting of intense storms.
As more volunteers joined the network, rain, hail, and snow maps were produced for storms of all types and sizes, and the resulting data patterns caught the interest of scientists and the general public. By 2010, CoCoRaHS was a nationwide volunteer network. CoCoRaHS is supported nationally by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Partners in Texas include the Office of the State Climatologist (Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon) at Texas A&M University, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas at Austin, the Harris County Flood Control District and many other agencies.

CoCoRaHS is recruiting volunteers to help keep track of where and how much it rains across the United States. Because the Harris County Flood Control District relies on precipitation data collected by CoCoRaHS during and after rainfall and flood events, it encourages residents in the Houston/Galveston region to be "data collectors" in their own backyards.

CoCoRaHS is a non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow).

Volunteering for CoCoRaHS does not require a meteorology degree or list of credentials - just an interest in observing and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can affect and impact our region.

What do CoCoRaHS volunteers do?

Using an official CoCoRaHS rain gauge in a strategic location, a volunteer is  asked to take precipitation measurements each day at approximately the same time and then record those measurements on the CoCoRaHS website (www.cocorahs.org).

CoCoRaHS rain gauge
The data is organized and displayed on the website for the general public’s observation and use.  The National Weather Service, meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, public works managers, insurance adjusters, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, engineers, mosquito control, ranchers and farmers, teachers and students and residents all use the information.   
Weather Data Collection Effort

CoCoRaHS’s volunteer network is a vital part of the overall weather data collection effort. Its volunteers’ precipitation reports help fill in the gaps between official rainfall data collection sites in our region, such as the Flood Control District’s Flood Warning System (www.harriscountyfws.org) and the National Weather Service’s climate sites.

“The more volunteers and rainfall data we have during and after an event, the better we are able to define how much it has rained and the storm’s impact,” said Heather Saucier, spokeswoman for the Flood Control District.


The Houston/Galveston Network

The Houston/Galveston Region (Harris, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Jackson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Polk, San Jacinto, Waller, and Wharton counties) has 200 volunteers, but needs many more to better measure precipitation across the region.

To join, go to the CoCoRaHS website (www.cocorahs.org) and click on the “Join CoCoRaHS” emblem in the upper right corner of the home page. The website also offers a wealth of information on the organization’s background, training and educational tools, where to purchase the required CoCoRaHS rain gauge, how and where to set up the gauge on your property and much more.