The National Weather Service and CoCoRaHS
needs YOUR help, El Paso!
What is CoCoRaHS?
CoCoRaHS is the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network, a community-based network of volunteers working together to measure and map precipitation. Anyone of any age or background can join CoCoRaHS. All you need is a 4" Plastic Rain Gauge, an interest in science, and an internet connection! Then, you make daily reports of precipitation that has fallen in your area -- rain, hail, or snowfall. You can send "zero" amounts for several days at a time during long stretches of dry weather. If you're not at home, you can just send a "multi-day precipitation" report when you return. The goal of CoCoRaHS is to get a more accurate measurement rainfall over an area, not to get a long-term, unbroken climate record at specific sites. Think of it as "precipitation reports by crowd-sourcing."
Las Cruces versus El Paso
CoCoRaHS has been actively recruiting members in Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico for a few years, while we've lagged behind in El Paso. We've been able to more than double the number of El Paso observers over the past month, but we still have some catching up to do. Below is a graphic showing CoCoRaHS rainfall reports received on the morning of Thursday, May 10th 2012. The previous day brought widespread rainfall to the region. The Las Cruces area checked in with 61 reports, while the El Paso area checked in with 14 reports. Also consider that El Paso's population is over 6 times that of Las Cruces!
Your CoCoRaHS reports are used by forecasters at the National Weather Service to assess Flash Flood potential, as well as help them understand regional precipitation patterns. The data is also used by hydrologists at River Forecast Centers for better model rainfall inputs for better river flood forecasts. CoCoRaHS is especially important in the Desert Southwest because most of our precipitation comes from widely scattered thunderstorms during the Summer Monsoon Season. Small areas of heavy rainfall can easily miss sparsely-distributed official observing stations. Even when it doesn't rain, your "zero" reports help scientists assess the impacts of periodic and long-term drought in our region.
To find out more about CoCoRaHS, or to join the network, please see our CoCoRaHS Resource Page or the national CoCoRaHS official site. If you have any questions, or are having trouble obtaining an official rain gauge, please contact Mike Hardiman.