October 1, 2008

Volunteers Sought for Rain Gauge Program

State Climatologist Michael Anderson, an employee of the Department of Water Resources, is encouraging California residents to participate in a volunteer program to measure precipitation. Rainfall captured in backyard rain gauges will be logged on an internet-based weather network developed in Fort Collins, Colorado by CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network.

California is the 36th state to join the network which has more than 11,000 volunteers currently. The non-profit CoCoRaHS network is sponsored in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service and other individual contributors and organizations, including Cooperative Extension. The long-term goal of CoCoRaHS is ultimately to recruit one volunteer observer per square mile in urban areas and one volunteer observer per 36 square miles in rural areas for all 50 states.

Anderson said, "There is no substitute for accurate, local measurement of the weather. This data will help not only during short time-scale events like storms and floods, but also serve as an added tool for recording and analyzing climate change."

Home-based and amateur rain spotters take daily rainfall measurements and report them to the CoCoRaHS website, http://www.cocorahs.org. Each volunteer is asked to read the rain gauge each day at the same time and upload the measurement to the website. The result is more precise information about where rain, snow and hail falls and in what amount.

Anyone with an interest in weather and access to the Internet can sign up. The only equipment needed is a cylindrical rain gauge available from the network for $23 plus shipping. Simple training is available at http://www.cocorahs.org.

The Department of Water Resources operates and maintains the State Water Project, provides dam safety and flood control and inspection services, assists local water districts in water management and water conservation planning, and plans for future statewide water needs.

SOURCE: Department of Water Resources