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Seeks precipitation observers

By Staff | Mar 22, 2016

DES MOINES (IDALS) – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s State Climatology Office and the National Weather Service are again recruiting volunteer precipitation observers across Iowa to participate in the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network, known as “CoCoRaHS.”

All that is needed to participate is an interest in the weather, a 4-inch diameter rain gage, a suitable location to set up the gage and access to the internet.

All data collected are immediately available for free online and are routinely used for flood forecasting, drought assessment, news media stories, scientific research and general weather interest.

More information about the network is available online at www.cocorahs.org. The website includes information on how to join, where to purchase your rain gage and how to accurately measure and report rain and snow.

The network was established by the Colorado Climate Center in 1998 and has now spread to all 50 states and Canada.

Iowa joined this volunteer network in 2007 and now has more than 300 registered CoCoRaHS observers across the state.

However, more observers are needed to better document the amount and variability of rain and snow across Iowa.

“In 2015, much of central and southwestern Iowa experienced very wet weather from May through September. A welcome break in the wet weather occurred in October, but was followed by a very wet November and record wet December.

For the year as a whole, record high annual precipitation totals were recorded at Bedford, Shenandoah, Clarinda, Carroll, Audubon, Cherokee and Denison, while portions of northeast and extreme northwest Iowa saw slightly less rain than usual.

Current soil moisture levels over much of the state are the highest for this time of year since the aftermath of the 1993 floods,” said Harry Hillaker, state climatologist for Iowa. “Whatever weather comes our way this year, the observations obtained by this network can help obtain a clearer picture of Iowa’s weather.”

Weather observers are needed everywhere, but with the most critical needs are in the counties of Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Worth, Wright, Allamakee, Calhoun, Carroll, Shelby, Audubon, Cedar, Adams, Monroe, Louisa, Davis and Van Buren.

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