How much has it snowed in Richfield?
If you join the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow (CoCoRaHS) Network, it could be you telling the National Weather Service how much snow falls locally, rather than the other way around.
CoCoRaHS is a national network of precipitation observers whose measurements of snow, rain and hail help the NWS and other federal weather agencies predict floods and droughts, and take account of the situation when severe weather hits.
Because Minnesota already had an existing backyard rain gauge network since the 1970s known as MNGage or HIDEN, Minnesota was one of the last states to join CoCoRaHS, according to Michelle Margraf, meteorologist and Central Minnesota CoCoRaHS cooordinator for the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
The National Weather Service-Twin Cities is part of a national recruitment drive for volunteers in March. Last year Minnesota gained 100 new observers, Margraf said, for a current total of about 450 statewide and 200 in the Twin Cities (including both CoCoRaHS and MNGage/HIDEN observers).
Now observers in both networks feed information to the National Weather Service and other departments of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. CoCoRaHS volunteers enter their measurements via the internet, while some observers in areas without reliable internet connection submit data on paper.
Target Field in downtown Minneapolis was the first CoCoRaHS site in Minnesota—the Minnesota Twins having a vested interest in gauging rainout patterns.
Hennepin County has about 100 observers in the CoCoRaHS and HIDEN programs. (See map by clicking on PDF thumbnail, or at the CoCoRaHS website.)
CoCoRaHS wants you even if there is already an observer nearby in Richfield, Magraf said. Precipitation can vary block-to-block—the more observers and measurements the NWS has to work with, the more accurate and effective its local, regional and national information can be.
And you don't have to make measurements every day. You choose your schedule—Magraf said some people only do rain observations and skip the snow. Or never on Wednesdays. Whatever—CoCoRaHS will be happy to have you, according to Magraf.