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Weather network seeks Wyoming volunteers to assist in collecting data

Mar 17, 2014 - From staff reports

Water is the lifeblood of Wyoming and, being a headwaters state, Wyoming is dependent on what falls from the sky.

The amount of precipitation that falls varies considerably by location, and Wyoming citizens can help the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network by measuring what falls locally.

The organization provides residents with high quality, 4-inch rain gauges. All that is necessary on the recorder's part is an Internet connection and a willingness to read and report online what falls in the gauge.

CoCoRaHS is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers working together to measure and map precipitation in all its forms. It uses low-cost measurement tools, training and education, and an interactive website with the goal of providing the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications. CoCoRaHS is now the largest provider of daily precipitation observations in the United States and had about 19,000 observers active nationwide in 2013. A little less than 1.8 percent of those observers were in Wyoming.

The network originated at the Colorado Climate Center in 1998 and was largely a result of the Fort Collins, Colo., flood that took place the year before. Wyoming was the second state to join the network and celebrated its 10th year in the program in 2013. In the years since it started, CoCoRaHS has grown to include thousands of volunteers nationwide.

However, there are many areas that have no data, and other areas that have some data but little information on precipitation patterns.

Precipitation amounts can vary widely over a short distance and having more CoCoRaHS volunteers gives a better picture of the rainfall in an area. More volunteers also helps on the other side of the scale in that CoCoRaHS can get better coverage of where precipitation is not falling, which becomes important as drought comes and goes.

Volunteers simply read their gauges at a set time and then enter the reading at cocorahs.org. Data are displayed and organized for users to analyze and apply to daily situations, including water resource analysis and severe storm warnings.

For more information and to sign up, visit cocorahs.org or contact Wyoming CoCoRaHS coordinator Tony Bergantino at antonius@uwyo.edu or 766-3786.

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