MSU-based network seeks rainfall observers

From Press, Staff Reports

The Mississippi Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network
again is looking to recruit new observers of rainfall throughout the
state.

Based at Mississippi State, the organization commonly referred to as
CoCoRaHS is a joint effort among the National Weather Service, U.S.
Department of Agriculture and the university’s geosciences
department. Information collected is used by meteorologists and
climatologists studying patterns of precipitation.

The state organization currently is taking part in a nationwide
recruiting effort called “March Madness.” Along with other state
networks, it is competing this month to sign up the most new rainfall
network observers.

“We have two goals for this year’s March Madness: to sign up someone
in each of the 30 counties without an active observer and to increase
the number of observers in those counties with only one or two
volunteers,” said Kathy Sherman-Morris, CoCoRaHS state coordinator
and an assistant professor in the department.

“Ideally, we would like to have at least five or six observers evenly
spread throughout each county,” she said.

Mississippi joined the nonprofit program in August 2008 and has 189
reporting observers. According to the organization’s website,
www.cocorahs.org, counties in North Mississippi, the Delta and south
central parts of the state are most in need of observers. Webster
County only has two observers.

In addition to signing up online at the above listed website,
volunteers must purchase an official-type rain gauge and report their
readings online, preferably at the same time each day.

State Climatologist Mike Brown, an MSU assistant professor of
geosciences, said the data provides important information for several
areas of research.

“In a state with a large agricultural interest such as Mississippi,
understanding the spatial distribution of rainfall is critical,”
Brown emphasized. “Since the advent of this rainfall network, we have
seen widely ranging daily totals over the distance of a few miles.
“This network ha
s shown us that farmers in particular need to participate in the
collection of these data,” Brown added. “These data provide critical
information to forecasters and hydrologists as well as the farmers
collecting the data in order to maintain the health of their crops.”

For more information on CoCoRaHS or becoming an observer, contact
Sherman-Morris at 662-268-1032 or kms5@msstate.edu.