State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says volunteers are needed for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network, otherwise known as CoCoRaHS.
“Basically, it’s an internet-based reporting system where people with a particular type of rain gage can report each day on precipitation amounts, snowfall totals, snow depths, hail events, and all sorts of things that can be reported through the network,” Hillaker says. The data that’s collected by the volunteer observers is available for free online and helps the National Weather Service with flood forecasting, drought assessments, and more.
“We currently have about 200 active observers across the state right now,” Hillaker says. “Almost 70 of Iowa’s 99 counties have observers and we could definitely use way more than that.” The CoCoRaHS network was established in Colorado in 1998 and has spread to all 50 states. Iowa joined the volunteer network in 2007.
Hillaker says weather observers are needed statewide, but the most critical needs are in Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Worth, Wright, Allamakee, Calhoun, Carroll, Shelby, Audubon, Cedar, Adams, Monroe, Louisa, Davis and Van Buren counties.
Photo from the CoCoRaHS website.