Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Welcome to our CoCoRaHS Neighbors to the North!

Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalist have a few members who are involved in CoCoRaHS. They submit precipitation observations to a nationwide database. We would like to now welcome our neighbors (or shall we say neighbours) to the North to this program!
Volunteer Weather Observers make a difference!

What is CoCoRaHS Canada?

"CoCoRaHS" (stands for "Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network") is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation across Canada. By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive website, our aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications. CoCoRaHS operates in every State in the U.S. and in Manitoba, Canada. 

Where did CoCoRaHS Canada begin?

CoCoRaHS originated with the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998 thanks in part to the Fort Collins flood a year prior.  The CoCoRaHS Canada network began in Manitoba in December 2011 following a massive flood experienced in Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan. CoCoRaHS Canada expects to be country-wide in the coming years. 

Who can participate?

This is a community-based, grassroots project. Whether you live in the city or in rural areas, everyone can help.  The only requirements are (a) a demonstrated interest in weather and (b) a desire to learn more about the importance of high-quality weather information. 

What will our volunteer observers be doing?

Each time a rain, hail or snow storm crosses your area, volunteers take measurements of precipitation from as many locations as possible (see equipment).  Volunteers then report the readings on our web site ( The data is then displayed and organized for many of our end-users to analyze and apply to daily situations ranging from water resource analysis and severe storm warnings to neighbours comparing how much rain fell in their backyards. 

Who uses CoCoRaHS?

CoCoRaHS Canada is used by a wide variety of organizations and individuals.  Meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (water supply, water conservation, storm water), insurance adjusters, engineers, mosquito control, farmers, outdoor enthusiats, teachers, students, and neighbours in the community are just some examples of those who visit our website and use our data. 

Why is precipitation measurement important?

Precipitation is very variable even over the shortest distances.  By having volunteers monitor precipitation in their area, we can better capture this variability.  Precipitation measurements are essential for public safety, agriculture, forestry, and flood monitoring, just to name a few. In fact, in 2011, Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan experienced the worst flooding in over 300 years resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to homes, farmland, and infrastructrure. Engineers that predict and monitor flooding need accurate rainfall and snowfall data to assist them in their decision making when responding to these types of emergencies.  You can be part of the solution by becoming a CoCoRaHS volunteer.

What do we hope to accomplish?

CoCoRaHS has several goals (as stated in our mission statement). They are:
  1. Providing accurate high-quality precipitation data for our many end users on a timely basis.
  2. Increasing the density of precipitation data available throughout the country by encouraging volunteer weather observing.
  3. Encouraging citizens to have fun participating in meteorological science and heightening their awareness of weather.
  4. Providing enrichment activities in water and weather resources for teachers, educators and the community at large to name a few. 

How can I sign up?

Just click here to sign up as a CoCoRaHS Volunteer Observer. 
Equipment can be purchased at

CoCoRaHS National Coordinators

CoCoRaHS Canada is coordinated by WeatherFarm, a web-based weather network that provides real-time, localized weather data to farmers, industry, and the general public in Western Canada. Starting in 2009, WeatherFarm began installing weather stations at farms and businesses across the prairie provinces, and the network has now grown to include more than 800 weather stations. 

If weather monitoring interests you and other citizen scientist volunteer opportunities...
The next BRFAL Chapter Basic Training for Aspiring Virginia Master Naturalists is coming up in March 2012 at The Franklin Center in Downtown Rocky Mount VA. You can get the Draft Schedule of Classes and View the Itinerary here, and get the Information Letter and Application here.  If you have any questions about this upcoming basic training please send an email to:  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment and interest! NOW GO OUTSIDE!