Become a Volunteer Weather Observer

We recommend animal feeding operations keep daily precipitation records for their farm and permitted operations are required to keep these records. Consider contributing your daily precipitation data to a statewide database to help the University of Missouri, the National Weather Service and others monitor precipitation patterns in Missouri.

Because of Missouri’s size and topography there is significant climatic variation within the state. Precipitation can be highly variable over short distances, especially during the summer when thunderstorm activity has a tendency to be spotty. The hit and miss nature of rainfall during the growing season requires an extensive monitoring network to accurately capture precipitation patterns in the state. A large network of rain gauges across the state also provides valuable information in regard to drought assessment and flood monitoring and prediction.

In 2007 Missouri joined a program called the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS. CoCoRaHS was started in Colorado in 1998 and is a grass roots volunteer network of observers who measure precipitation for their local communities. The program has been well received in Colorado and has expanded to 30 additional states including Missouri. The only requirements to join are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can affect our lives. Additionally, in order to provide consistent and accurate precipitation data, all observers are required to use a particular rain gauge model (cost is less then $30).

Once enrolled, the weather observer is assigned a station ID and uses an interactive web site to submit their observations. A short on-line training get’s you started on the basics of obtaining usable weather data. The web site allows the observer to see their observation mapped in real-time and provide valuable information for all data users. For the more enthusiastic participants there is also an opportunity to collect data on hail.

If you would like to be a CoCoRaHS volunteer weather observer in Missouri, please go to www.cocorahs.org for more information or contact Pat Guinan (GuinanP@missouri.edu), Missouri State Climatologist and one of the state coordinators of CoCoRaHS for Missouri.