We Need You… to Measure Precipitation!

Are you interested in the weather and science? Do you go outside, wear clothes, or do anything else that is affected by the weather? If so, we want YOU to measure and report precipitation.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS, https://www.cocorahs.org/) is a volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure precipitation (rain, hail, and snow) in their neighborhoods and communities. All you need to do to participate is have an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions. More information on CoCoRaHS is here: https://www.cocorahs.org/Content.aspx?page=aboutus#signup. You can sign up for CoCoRaHS here: https://www.cocorahs.org/Application.aspx.

Why we need observers

The National Weather Service operates a high-quality network of weather stations measuring precipitation, but the network is too sparse to capture the often-high variability of precipitation across Illinois. CoCoRaHS observations help fill those gaps. The map below shows an example of how important CoCoRaHS observations are to capturing rainfall across the Land of Lincoln. In just this recent storm event, rainfall totals around the Bloomington-Normal area ranged from 1.69 inches to 0.70 inches. These CoCoRaHS reports are vital for monitoring and predicting drought conditions, potential flooding, and other weather and climate related issues.

Map of daily CoCoRaHS observations in central Illinois from March 23rd.

We are nearing the end of the CoCoRaHS March Madness recruiting period, and Illinois has fallen behind other states in the region. While we have welcomed 37 new CoCoRaHS observers in Illinois this month, we’re trailing Indiana (38), Ohio (89), and Wisconsin (94). We can’t lose to Indiana!

CoCoRaHS volunteers are the largest single source of daily precipitation observations in the U.S.  In 2022 CoCoRaHS observations accounted for two-thirds of all U.S. daily precipitation observation archived by the National Centers for Environmental Information. The more observers participating in CoCoRaHS, the better we can monitor and study precipitation across Illinois. As the map below shows, we’re particularly missing new observers in central Illinois. However, no matter where you are in the state, please consider joining Co CoRaHS and contributing to citizen science in Illinois.

New CoCoRaHS observers in Illinois.

What benefits are there in volunteering? 

Participating in CoCoRaHS is an easy and fun way to make important contributions to science and community resilience. By providing daily observations, you help to fill in a piece of the weather puzzle that affects many across your area in one way or another. CoCoRaHS is also a great educational opportunity for youth and adult learning. Having a CoCoRaHS station in schools help students learn about weather, how it’s measured, and how it differs from one place to another.

How can I sign up for CoCoRaHS?

To sign up, visit this page: https://www.cocorahs.org/Application.aspx. Becoming a CoCoRaHS observer takes just 5 minutes and makes a huge difference in your community and state. 

What if I have questions?

If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback on CoCoRaHS please reach out to the State Climatologist Trent Ford (twford@illinois.edu, 217-244-1330) or Illinois CoCoRaHS Coordinator Steve Hilberg (hberg@illinois.edu), 217-377-6034.