Sep 272011
 
Authors: Tyler Cashion

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) has started a campaign to get CSU students and students across the state to collect rainwater.

CoCoRaHS is a non-profit organization that collects precipitation measurements from volunteers across the country, aiming to acquire and display its data for education and research.

“CoCoRaHS is a non-profit science network of people who relay their rain gauge levels to help local scientists all the way up to scientists on the national level,” said Noah Newman, education coordinator for CoCoRaHs.

According to Regan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute, before CoCoRaHS, the institute worked with the National Weather Service, which was “really limited in its special distribution.”

“What they are doing is very helpful to our operations and to Colorado,” said Dana Strongin, spokeswoman for Northern Colorado Water District.

But don’t worry about breaking laws in this program because according to Strongin, the laws against collecting rain water in the state of Colorado do not apply to rain collection on a small scale for research purposes.

Lately, CoCoRaHS has been visiting grade schools across the state to encourage students to become volunteers.

“The notion is that we need more data, we need more rain gages, we need more pixels on our map, just like you would want more pixels on your camera,” Newman said. “My plan as the education coordinator is to recruit more schools to our network.

“Right now most of our members are retired senior citizens, so we’re trying to get a younger group to join, but we are open for anyone to become a volunteer.”

According to Newman, CoCoRaHS has invited every school in the state of Colorado to join the program. Newman has even offered to buy the rain gages for these schools.

“Any teacher that is interested is eligible for a free rain gage,” Newman said. “We have handed out around 15 rain gages in Fort Collins so far, and we have schools all over the state already starting to participate.

“Locally, this program can help water managers and flood managers. For instance, the city of Fort Collins uses the data to see how much rain fell in each part of the city to determine whether or not to issue flash flood warnings.”

The program also helps its volunteer members better comprehend weather systems.

“Through the education programs of CoCoRaHS, the volunteers become people who understand water and weather better and you can see the education level propagate through the number of CoCoRaHS volunteers across the nation now,” Waskom said.

Tonight, CoCoRaHS is holding a training session at the Aurora Central Library, though if you are not able to attend the meeting Newman encourages those interested in volunteering to contact him at (970) 491-8545.

Collegian writer Tyler Cashion can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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