March 18, 2008

Wanted: Volunteers to measure rain, sleet and snow in their backyards

Tired of complaining about the weather? Here's something you can do about it: measure it.

State weather watchers are looking for amateur weather buffs to measure and record the daily precipitation -- rain, snow or sleet -- that falls in their backyards. Training for volunteers will be held Saturday, March 29, at 10 a.m. in 135 Emerson at Cornell.

Data collected by volunteers will enable climate scientists to map regional rain patterns more precisely and to provide critical information to a host of organizations concerned about agriculture, flood control, drought response, mosquito control and other commercial and environmental issues.

"Precipitation patterns vary widely across our region, and the more observers we have collecting data, the better we will be able to analyze and predict the weather and its impact," said Kathy Vreeland, a climatologist at the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell.

The call for volunteers is part of a nationwide program called CoCoRaHS -- the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Vreeland, who is also CoCoRaHS coordinator for New York, explained that CoCoRaHS started in Colorado in 1998 after devastating floods in Fort Collins and has grown to include 27 states and 7,500 volunteers.

In addition to the training session, volunteers will need access to the Internet and a CoCoRaHS rain gauge (about $22 plus shipping).

To register for the training, contact Vreeland at cocorahs@cornell.edu. For more information on CoCoRaHS, check the national Web site: http://cocorahs.org, or the New York state site: http://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=ny.