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N.D. Needs Precipitation Measurers

A nationwide rain and snow reporting network is looking for volunteers in North Dakota.

North Dakotans can become part of the state’s climatological history.

Adnan Akyuz, state climatologist and assistant professor of climatology in the North Dakota State University Soil Science Department, is looking for volunteers for a nationwide rain and snow reporting network.

“Now, in your very neighborhood, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are measuring precipitation in their own backyards as part of CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, which has grown to more than 15,000 volunteer observers covering every state of the country,” Akyuz says.

North Dakota already has nearly 110 volunteer CoCoRaHS 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.”

These observers measure rainfall, snowfall and snow depth. Some observers also measure the water equivalence of the snow if melted. The National Weather Service uses that information to assess the river flood potential 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 folks in their 90s, to document the size, intensity, duration and patterns of precipitation by taking simple measurements in their own backyards.

“Not to 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 Web site, http://www.cocorahs.org, for $25 plus shipping. The site 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, severe storm warnings, teaching earth science, predicting crop yields and assessing hail damage.

During March, the CoCoRaHS is running its annual competition among states, called “CoCoRaHS March Madness,” to see how many new observers it can recruit in each state.

North Dakota is at the top of the list, followed by Mississippi and Kansas. For more information or to volunteer for the CoCoRaHS network, go to http://www.cocorahs.org/.


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Adnan Akyuz, (701) 231-6577, adnan.akyuz@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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