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Organization seeks volunteer weather watchers

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POSTED: April 15, 2009 10:17 a.m.
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A member of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network makes sure a rain gauge attached to a post in his yard is level. The gauge, which is very precise, can measure rain in hundredths of an inch.

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The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, better known as CoCoRaHS, is looking for volunteers to help collect rainfall data across Georgia.
Since it began in Colorado in 1998, CoCoRaHS has expanded to 40 states where more than 12,000 observers take daily measurements of rain, hail and snow, according to Chris McGehee, hydrologist at the Southeast River Forecast Center, part of NOAA’s National Weather Service. She serves as CoCoRaHS state coordinator for Georgia. The nonprofit organization stresses training and education, and welcomes volunteers from all walks of life to take part in monitoring precipitation.
“This is a great chance for weather enthusiasts and average citizens to be part of a project that collects vital rainfall data,” McGehee said. “The data is readily available to the general public and other organizations.”
Volunteers must purchase the official network rain gauge, which costs about $32, including shipping. It’s a professional-quality instrument that measures rain in hundredths of an inch. Observers enter their daily precipitation totals on an interactive Web site, providing data for education and research, as well as the public. Climatologists, hydrologists, water resource managers and the National Weather Service are just some of the users of the high-density rainfall reports.
Georgia joined CoCoRaHS in spring 2008, and more than 500 Georgians from 115 counties have signed up. In their first year, Georgia CoCoRaHS observers reported heavy rain from Tropical Storm Fay, hail as large as softballs and even accumulating snow as far south as Taylor County.
“Official measuring stations across the state are sparse, and rainfall can vary quite a bit over short distances,” McGehee said.  “With trained volunteers, CoCoRaHS helps fill these gaps and give us a better picture of precipitation patterns.”
To volunteer as a CoCoRaHS observer or for more information, go to www.cocorahs.org.

 

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