By: Noah Newman
While CSO collects valuable measurements from volunteers in the backcountry, NOAA is in vital need of accurate snow measurements from your house. Snowfall is just as variable where you live as it is in the high country, and you can collect measurements right from your own back yard and help make a difference. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network (https://www.cocorahs.org/) provides a platform for registering your location and submitting precipitation data via their website or smartphone App, where the data are immediately available for viewing. Researchers, meteorologists and snow professionals at NOAA such as NOHRSC and NWS River Forecast Centers use the data in many of their products and even provide data visualization tools for viewing submitted reports within their models.
CoCoRaHS only allows manual measurements and requires a specific gauge approved by the NWS for measuring snow water equivalent (SWE) which is the process of melting snowfall or snow depth and measuring the water content. Participants are encouraged to report daily and year-round, but volunteers can participate as much or as little as they want. Some volunteers religiously submit data every morning at 7:00AM sharp, including the all-valuable zeros which help drought scientists who are looking for data confirming where it did not rain or snow. Others only report when it rains and then skip town when the snow starts to fall. Others choose to not report rainfall at all and only report new snowfall or the depth of snow on the ground using a simple ruler.
Whatever level of participation, CoCoRaHS is able to share the data with a variety of users for countless applications. To learn more, visit their website where you can find links to training materials (including options for weighing snow measurements using a kitchen scale), FAQ’s and additional information on where to purchase an approved gauge.
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