Do you have in interest in measuring rainfall and snow? Then you may be interested in joining a volunteer organization called the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network, also known as CoCoRaHS. All observers equip themselves with a 4” diameter plastic rain gage that is available for purchase on the main CoCoRaHS website and costs around $20 + shipping. Once equipped, observers can attend a training session that covers information such as where you should place your gage, how and when to report your daily observation, and how to measure precipitation.
Observers are asked to report their daily observation once a day (normally around 7am) and measuring snow is optional, but greatly appreciated. Also, observers are not required to report everyday as we understand that people go on vacations or simply cannot do an observation every day. In that case, when you get back from your vacation you can just report what has accumulated in your rain gage over the time period that you were gone as a multi-day report. Observers can also submit Intense Precipitation Reports as a heavy rainfall event (such as this past weekend) or snowstorm occurs, which is used by meteorologists at the National Weather Service to assess the weather situation on whether flood or winter warnings/advisories need to be issued or updated. This data is also used by various media outlets to inform the viewing public of how much rain/snow has fallen after an event occurs. Observers may also report hail as it occurs, but the main focus of the program across northern Illinois and Indiana is on rain and snow.
The current network across the NWS Chicago forecast area in northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana has over 600 volunteers that have signed up and we are always looking for new volunteers to help out and increase our density of observations across the region. If you are interested in joining, please visit the CoCoRaHS homepage at www.cocorahs.org and click on the “Join CoCoRaHS” circle in the upper right hand portion of the screen. To see CoCoRaHS information from across the region, visit the NWS Chicago’s CoCoRaHS page by clicking here. If you have any other questions, feel free to email Tim Halbach at Timothy.J.Halbach@noaa.gov .