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University of Illinois Extension

Volunteer Rainfall Observers in Illinois Provide a Valuable Service

February 19, 2014

"How much rain did you get?"

Every morning hundreds of volunteer rainfall observers in Illinois head out to check their rain gauges, rain or shine. They report their measurements as part of a popular national weather observation program. If you have any interest in the weather, then this program may be for you.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network (CoCoRaHS) is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow) in their local communities. The program started in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1998 and now exists in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 10,000 volunteers participate nationwide. Volunteers enter their observation on an interactive web site, and observations are immediately viewable on maps or in tables. CoCoRaHS observations can be viewed at www.cocorahs.org.

There are currently more than 500 observers across the state of Illinois making and reporting daily rainfall and snow observations, supplementing the observations made at airports and by NWS Cooperative Observers. These observations are used every day by the National Weather Service, private meteorologists and climatologists, the media, civil engineers, municipalities, farmers, and many others, including the general public.

"Variations in rain and snow really make a big difference for agriculture, wildlife and water supplies," says Steve Hilberg, Illinois CoCoRaHS Coordinator. "Getting involved as a volunteer CoCoRaHS observer is a great way to give something back to your community by helping monitor its natural resources. It's a lot of fun as well."

CoCoRaHS is looking for additional volunteers in southern Illinois. In partnership with University of Illinois Extension, CoCoRaHS will be holding an information/training sessions in Mt. Vernon on March 12. There is no charge to attend, but pre-registration is required by March 7.

The session will be held on Wednesday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the University of Illinois Extension Office, 4618 Broadway in Mt. Vernon. To register for this session, call (618) 548-1446.

To find out more about the CoCoRaHS program or to join, visit www.cocorahs.org and click on the "Join COCORAHS" link on the web page.

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