How much rain fell in your hometown overnight? How much snow fell during yesterday’s winter storm? Would you like to share the weather information you record in your backyard with others in your community, as well as those who need weather data at the regional, state and national level? 
The Minnesota State Climatology Office and the National Weather Service are looking for volunteers to collect and report daily rainfall and snowfall data across Minnesota as part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, better known as CoCoRaHS.  
Observers can also share significant weather reports such as hail and flooding via CoCoRaHS to help document the effect adverse weather is having on their local community in real time. 
On December 1st, Minnesota officially joined the CoCoRaHS network, which has over 14,000 volunteers nationwide. Minnesotans of all ages and backgrounds can join this rapidly growing network, playing an active role in meteorological reporting and research. All that is needed is a rain gage, a ruler, and an interest in weather. Training is provided free of charge, and is available online, via phone or e-mail, or in a group setting. 
Volunteers use an interactive web site to provide precipitation data for a variety of applications. The National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (water supply, water conservation, storm water), insurance adjusters, USDA, engineers, natural resource managers, mosquito control, farmers, outdoor & recreation interests, teachers, students, and neighbors in the community are just some examples of those who use CoCoRaHS data. 
Minnesota has been a pioneer in starting grass-roots volunteer precipitation observing networks. The CoCoRaHS network compliments several other climate networks which already exist across Minnesota. These include the National Weather Service Cooperative Observing Network and the MNgage Minnesota-area Volunteer Climate Observing Program.  This new partnership with CoCoRaHS will allow even more citizens to share locally gathered information to help meet the important need of near-real time precipitation data.
After the devastating 1997 Fort Collins, Colorado flash flood, CoCoRaHS was started by Colorado State University.  During this flood, record breaking rain fell in an area where no official rain gages were located.  This prompted the university to search for ways to improve the density of near-real time precipitation data.  Their solution was creating a high density network of community observers (CoCoRaHS) in 1998.
As Minnesotans are well aware, precipitation can vary widely across the state.  Thunderstorms can drop very heavy rain in one area, while locations just a few miles away remain dry.   Even snowfall totals can vary greatly from one end of a county to the other.  Having a greater density of precipitation reports across Minnesota will assist greatly with determining the impact of storms, and gauging the severity of droughts or floods.  The addition of just a few CoCoRaHS observers within a given county will create a more complete picture of the weather.  
Across the NWS La Crosse service area, the states of Wisconsin (March 2007) and Iowa (July 2007) joined the CoCoRaHS network within the past 3 years. At this time, all citizens in the La Crosse service area may volunteer as CoCoRaHS observers. 

To learn how you can volunteer as a CoCoRaHS observer, or for more information on the network, please visit the CoCoRaHS website at www.cocorahs.org. If you have any questions, you may also contact Glenn Lussky (Meteorologist in Charge), Tim Halbach (Meteorologist) or Jeff Boyne (Meteorologist) at the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wisconsin at 608-784-7294.  

Media Contacts:
Glenn Lussky, Meteorologist in Charge
Tim Halbach, Meteorologist
Jeff Boyne, Meteorologist
National Weather Service
N2788 County Road FA
La Crosse, WI 54601
phone: 608-784-7294
fax:      608-784-8238

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