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January 23, 2007

Illinois State Water Survey/National Weather Service asks volunteers to keep an eye to the sky
Grassroots volunteer program wants weather watchers in Illinois

Champaign, IL – Weather affects all of us and can vary greatly even over short distances. In an effort to increase the density of rainfall observations over the United States, a fast-growing, volunteer program needs weather observers in Illinois.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network began in Colorado in 1998 and has already grown to more than 2500 observers in 14 states.  Program coordinators for Illinois include the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), the National Weather Service, and the University of Illinois Extension Natural Resources Management team.

“This project benefits the entire state. Anyone can help, regardless of age or education,” said Steve Hilberg, ISWS meteorologist and CoCoRaHS co-coordinator for Illinois.

The nonprofit CoCoRaHS network stresses training and education.  The National Science Foundation and other contributors provide funding.  CoCoRaHS volunteers are backyard weather observers of all ages, working together to measure and map local precipitation as rain, hail, and snow.

Volunteers use low-cost measurement tools and an interactive website to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education, and research applications.  Data users include organizations and individuals, including climatologists, hydrologists, water managers, and the National Weather Service, who use these data to monitor drought, heavy rainfall, and precipitation patterns.

“The only requirements for observers are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions, and a desire to learn more about weather impacts on our lives. Participation takes just a few minutes a day,” said Hilberg.

Training is required, and local training sessions teach new CoCoRaHS observers how to install their instruments and measure precipitation.  A workshop will be held at the ISWS in Champaign at 7:00 p.m. on February 1.  The ISWS at 2204 Griffith Drive is located near the intersection of First Street and Windsor Road.

Additional training sessions:

CITY                     LOCATION                           DATE                             TIME

Lincoln             Nat’l Weather Service                   Feb.  3          1:00 P.M.
Morton              Morton Public Library                  Feb. 13          6:30 P.M.
St. Charles      Kane County Extension                   Feb. 26          7:00 P.M.

The sessions are free, but you must pre-register.  To sign up for any of the above sessions please call 217-333-8495 or register by e-mail (hberg@uiuc.edu). 



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