The Woodward News

March 31, 2013

Weather group looking for volunteers

Chris Cooper
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — A national precipitation monitoring network named CoCoRaHs (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network) is looking for volunteers to aid in their data collection.

"Our goal is to increase the number of precipitation reports not just for Oklahoma, but whole US," Cindy Luttrell, Oklahoma CoCoRaHs coordinator, said.

Luttrell said the organization is currently accepting volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to aid in the measuring of precipitation in their own back yards. According to a press release from the group, there are currently 15,000 volunteers nation wide.

Luttrell said the program started following an event in Colorado where one part of town was hit by flash flooding, while another part only had mild rain and wasn't even aware of the flooding until it was too late.

"The amount of rain received on one side of a town to the other can be dramatically different," Luttrell said. "So our goal is to help fill in the information."

She said this type of information was of great value to many including the National Weather Service, meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities, insurance adjusters, agribusiness, engineers, science teachers, and many more.

"We have a lot of people who rely on this data," Luttrell said. "Emergency Management and the National Weather Service use the data from a current flood report and allows them to initiate a flash flood warning if they need to.

"Hydrologists use the information to estimate stream flows and issue a stream flood warning if they need to. Each of these organizations has their own reasons as to why its important."

According to the press release, volunteers need only a CoCoRaHs approved cylindrical rain gauge, some training, and an interest in the weather to help measure size, intensity, duration, and patterns of precipitation, all of which can be acquired at their website cocorahs.org.

"There's a training slideshow on the site when people go to sign up as a volunteer  that explains good places to place a rain guage, how to take an observation, how to enter them into the website, as well as special cases such as ice or snow accumulation and what to do if you're away for more than a day," Luttrell said.

The proper rain gauges can also be purchased on the website.

 "It's a great way to give back to the community, not only are they keeping organizations updated on the weather in their area, they're also making a log of the rain where they live," Luttrell said.  "A lot of people rely on the rainfall in their area, so it keeps them updated in respect to precipitation."

To learn more about CoCoRaHs or to sign up to volunteer, visit cocorahs.org.