Become Part of N.D’s Climatological History

It’s fun, easy and only takes five minutes a day.

North Dakotans can become part of the state’s climatological history by becoming volunteers for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) Network.

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS)

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS)

“In your neighborhood, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are measuring precipitation in their backyards as part of CoCoRaHS, which has grown to more than 15,000 volunteer observers covering every state of the country,” says Adnan Akyuz, North Dakota state climatologist and assistant professor of climatology in the North Dakota State University Soil Science Department.

North Dakota joined CoCoRaHS in October 2008 and has 180 volunteer observers.

“We need as many volunteer observers as possible around the state to help forecast flood potential, especially in the Red River Valley,” Akyuz says. “It’s fun, easy and only takes five minutes a day.”

The observers measure rainfall, snowfall and snow depth. Some observers also measure the water equivalence of the melted snow. The National Weather Service uses that information to assess potential river flooding more accurately.

“The more data points there are, the more accurate the assessment of the flood potential,” Akyuz says.

The CoCoRaHS network engages volunteers of all ages, from grade-schoolers to people in their 90s, to document the size, intensity, duration and patterns of precipitation by taking simple measurements in their backyards.

“Don’t worry if you do not know how to do all that,” Akyuz says. “We have lots of training materials for you to become an observer. All you need is an interest in weather to participate in the program and a cylindrical rain gauge.”

The rain gauges that the CoCoRaHS uses are available from several distributors on the network’s website at http://www.cocorahs.org. The website also offers online training.

Data from CoCoRaHS volunteers routinely are being viewed and used by many professions and organizations, including the National Weather Service, meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities, insurance adjusters, agribusinesses, engineers and science teachers. Data are used for many applications, such as water resource planning, irrigation scheduling, severe storm warnings, teaching, predicting crop yields and assessing hail damage.

For more information or to join CoCoRaHS, click on the “Join CoCoRaHS” tab while in the CoCoRaHS website at http://www.cocorahs.org.

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