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You, too, can become a weather watcher

October 18, 2012 · Updated 10:04 AM
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Caroline Mercer of Greenbank has been recording weather data since 2006 for Washington State University’s Island County Extension. Her weather data is printed each week in The Whidbey Examiner. / Elisabeth Murray

WSU Island County Extension already has plenty of weather data volunteers, but there’s another group looking for more amateur meteorologists: the nonprofit Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, a nationwide volunteer organization that recently expanded to include Canada.

NOAA and the National Science Foundation are major sponsors of the network.

The CoCoRaHS networks in Washington and Oregon are competing in a contest to get the most new volunteers through Oct. 27 – the day the University of Washington Huskies football team plays the Oregon State University Beavers.

The coordinators for each state’s network are based at those two universities.

Participation in the program requires the purchase of a standard 4-inch diameter rain gauge, which costs about $30, as well as a training session that can be completed online.

Collecting the data is very valuable, said Karin Bumbaco, the Washington CoCoRaHS coordinator.

Meteorologists use the data to verify the models they have created for forecasting weather, she said.

People flipping on the news in the morning hoping for a glimpse of the forecast can thank the volunteer network for meteorology’s ever-improving predictive accuracy. Climatologists, city utilities, hydrologists and researchers also use the data, she said.

“The more observations, the better,” said Bumbaco, explaining that forecasts are more accurate with more locations providing data.

For information, visit cocorahs.org.

 


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