"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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CoCoRaHS Weather Network
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.“ 

--The Hartford Courant, August 24, 1897

“Weather,” it has been said, “is something we will have . . . whether we like it or not.”

I can’t tell you who said that, but I can tell you that weather is a great factor in the success or failure of outdoors types’ sashays into the wild--more specifically, those who hunt, fish, or forage for the many forms of natural produce.

So, if you think in these terms--or even if you don’t--write down this word (if we may loosely call it a word): “CoCoRaHS.” Outdoor pursuits are not requisite to wanting to know what the weather will be. There are many uses for information on weather-related data.

“CoCoRaHS” is not a word, but an acronym for “Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow” network. But it is much more than an acronym. It is a network of people of many walks of life (including many weather professionals) who pool their talents and efforts to record the results of weather fronts that the data may be used for many purposes, including the efforts of outdoor types.

The network was launched by Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998, and now is operating in 12 states, including Indiana. Although professional weather/climate workers are the backbone of the network, run-of-the-mill folks are used/needed/sought for participation as volunteers to maintain and read rain gauges, and to report their findings.

To learn more about becoming a COCoRaHS volunteer, or to check rainfall or hail amounts around Indiana, or other participating states, open the organization’s web site, www.CoCoRaHS.org.

The menu of the opening page will open the door to all kinds of information, including the precipitation reports from various points around Indiana or other participating states. 

Goal of the network is to have an observer for every square mile of urban areas and one observer for every 36 square miles of rural areas.

Potential weather observers of the network should attend a training session, but individuals can arrange a training session by contacting Ken Scheeringa, CoCoRAHS@Purdue.edu, or Logan Johnson,  Logan.Johnson@noaa.gov. Observers will need a CoCoRaHS rain gauge (four inch diameter). Volunteer observers who do not have such a rain gauge will get one free from the network.

Upcoming Indiana training sessions are scheduled for Goshen, May 18; Washington, May 23, and New Albany, May 25. More information on these sessions, and others to be offered, is available on the network web page. Sites for other training sessions will be announced in the future.

Those who do not care to participate in the program can still use data others collect by simply opening the website, clicking on the map of Indiana (or another participating state), and opening the precipitation report.

Data on precipitation for Indiana also is available by opening the report of the Indiana State Climate Office at Purdue University. This address is www.iclimate.org. When this web site opens, click on “Request Information” . . . then click on “automated data."

This will open a form that will instruct the visitor to type in his e-mail address before clicking on “continue.” From there the visitor needs only to request the desired information by clicking on a map location and placing check marks in boxes.

Two other good sources of weather-related data are the web pages of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Louisville District office (www.lrl.usace.army.mil) for data on Indiana multi-purpose reservoirs, and the US Geological Survey (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/in/nwis/rt) for readings on gauges of many Hoosier streams and rivers.

When the Engineers’ web page opens, scroll down to “Louisville District.” Then click on “Rivers, Lakes, Locks and Dams and Recreation Information. That will open a page called “Operations Division.” Scroll down to and click on “Lake levels.”

When the Geological Survey page opens, click on “Rivers Grouped by River Basins.” 

Combining local rainfall data with water levels of rivers and reservoirs from your home can avoid the frustration that can come when along drive ends in learning that the water is not right for fishing, hunting, or some other outdoor activity.

This is the official CoCoRaHS rain gauge, available to volunteers in the program.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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