Join CoCoRaHs Rainfall Network…

Back in 1997, a two-day major flood event in Fort Collins, Colorado caused extensive damage and killed 5 people. Rainfall was recorded in those two days around 10+ inches. Colorado State University decided to create a rainfall network to monitor rainfall. This network has now grown to over 30 states and more are being added each month. The name…CoCoRaHS which stands for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

CoCoRaHS started here in our area around March of 2007. There are an estimated 550 stations across 33 counties in South Central Texas. South Texas is leading the way with more active participants. Each day more and more stations are being added as people are finding out the network.

This data can be used by anyone at anytime. The National Weather Service is a sponsor of this program and they look at the data that people are inputting. Broadcast television stations like KSAT 12 use this data when looking at area reports when severe weather strikes. Teachers, insurance companies, contractors, you name it — anyone can view this data via internet connection.

The whole reason for this network is to provide ground truth. Technology is advancing but not quickly enough. For example, on Friday, April 25, a severe line of thunderstorms affected the San Antonio area around midnight. After the storms had passed, KSAT 12’s rain gauge recorded one inch of rain while Vipir 24/7 indicated that two inches had fallen over the station. What happened? Well the storms had hail in them, and when that happens the radar beam coming back to the radar thinks that its raining harder because hail has a higher reflectivity. In essence, the radar misinterpreted the data. So thats why its imperative that there be ground truth. This network has already proven itself especially last year during the Marble Falls Rain Event and Tropical Storm Erin that hit the Texas coast.

So how do you sign up? Head over to CoCoRaHS website at www.cocorahs.org. Look on the left side and click join us. It will ask basic information, name address, where the rain gauge is located. It will ask you do you have a CoCoRaHS accepted rain gauge? If you don’t you can purchase one through two accepted vendors for about 22 dollars with shipping and handling extra. It’s important to get the same one everyone uses because there will be a consensus among stations. The best place to put a rain gauge is away from trees and a few feet from homes. Preferably, out in the open so tree branches or debris can’t affect the readings. Also putting the rain gauge on a fence is not a good place either because the winds/rain hitting the fence can affect rain totals.

If you want to just look at the data without signing up you can do that as well…Did I mention that’s FREE? Just go to the website www.cocorahs.org, click on “the state of Texas”, then click “view large map”, on the left you can search between precipitation, snow, and even hail. Choose an area like Austin/San Antonio/Del Rio or an individual county, then a date…then click Get Map. Your done.

If your unsure or have a question about signing up or the program, email me at balonzo@ksat.com

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