Iowa State University and the National Weather Service researchers want to line up weather observers to help track precipitation in Iowa as part of a national weather observation network.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow -- or CoCoRaHS -- network has more than 3,500 volunteer observers in 18 states. Volunteers are weather observers working together to measure and map local precipitation.

“Anyone can help, regardless of age or education,” says Daryl Herzmann, Iowa State agronomist and Iowa's CoCoRaHS co-coordinator. “The only requirements for observers are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions, and a desire to learn more about how weather impacts our lives.”

Observers use low-cost measurement tools and an interactive Web site to provide the data to the National Weather Service. Participation takes just a few minutes a day. Volunteers learn to install instruments and measure precipitation at free local training sessions. Training also is available on the Internet.

Data are used for natural resource, education and research applications. Climatologists, meteorologists, city utility managers, farmers and teachers are just a few examples of those who use these data. IowaState researchers use the data to monitor drought, heavy rainfall and precipitation patterns.

The network originated with the ColoradoClimateCenter at ColoradoStateUniversity in 1998.  The National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and several other contributors provide funding for the network. Learn more about CoCoRaHS at

Source: IowaStateUniversity