On Friday, the 10th of July, the creators of the CoCoRaHS program and Michigan State University sponsored an observer appreciation dinner in Grand Rapids.
Initially begun as an answer to too few rain gages in an area prone to flooding from mountain rains in and around Fort Collins Colorado, CoCoRaHS has exploded into a national network of nearly 25,000 rain gage stations. On any given day over 10,000 reports of precipitation and hail are received by Colorado State University which are then shared with many educational, media, and governmental agencies including the National Weather Service (NWS). This data is collected from everyday people who have an interest in weather, a computer, have purchased a 4 inch rain gage and have joined the network. These folks, along with the COOP weather observers of the National Weather Service combine to provide much needed daily precipitation readings to assist in flood forecasting and climate data collecting across the US.
Following a tour of the NWS Office at the Gerald R Ford Airport, around 50 CoCoRaHS observers and family members were welcomed to the MSU Extension Office in Grand Rapids for a barbecue dinner, desserts, and the opportunity to hear from the folks who developed and maintain the program. In addition, NWS personnel from the Grand Rapids office were on hand to meet and share stories with the observers. Following a couple of slide shows from Jeff Andresen, State Climatologist and Michigan State CoCoRaHS Director, and
Nolan Doesken, CoCoRaHS National Director, there were raffles and a sharing of experiences in this now one year old program in the State of Michigan. Also on hand was Henry Reges, CoCoRaHS National Coordinator and George Wetzel, NWS Grand Rapids Observation Program Leader and Local CoCoRaHS Coordinator. Observers from as far away as the White Lake area near Pontiac, the northern Indiana counties of Porter and LaPorte, the town of New Buffalo, and a number of other cities across southern lower Michigan were represented. The event was very successful and just goes to show if there is one thing that can bring most people together, it's weather. Everyone has their story and that's part of the fun.
If you are interested in the program check out www.cocorahs.org and sign up to be an observer in your area. You might be surprised how many other people in your neighborhood or that you already know are observers. .
Nolen Doesken, CoCoRaHS National Director, describes placement of a 4 inch rain gage.