Archive for February, 2011

March Madness – CoCoRaHS Style

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Every March, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network or CoCoRaHS, conducts a campaign to recruit more observers for its nationwide volunteer weather observing

CoCoRaHS rain gauge

CoCoRaHS rain gauge

network.  If you have an interest in observing precipitation from your own backyard, I encourage you to check out CoCoRaHS. The data is used by many organizations and your observation is used to create realtime maps of rain, hail, and snow on the CoCoRaHS web page.

What is CoCoRaHS?

CoCo.. what? CoCoRaHS is an acronym for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.  CoCoRaHS is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow).   By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive Web-site, our aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications. We are now in all fifty states.

What does it cost to join?

There is no charge to join but you will need to purchase an official CoCoRaHS rain gauge at a cost of around $30 (including shipping). Links to purchase a rain gauge are available from the CoCoRaHS web site. It is very important that all observers use this gauge for accuracy and consistency.

What about training?

All observers are required to go through training in order to learn things like the best place to install your rain gauge, correct measurement procedures, and using the web page. Attending a training session is the best way to get training but if that is not possible, training is available online.

Join CoCoRaHSOK, How do I sign up?!

Simple, go to the CoCoRaHS web site ( and click on the Join CoCoRaHS link.

For Illinois information and upcoming training, be sure and check out:

The Melt Begins

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Daytime high temperatures will continue a steady climb as we head into the latter part of the upcoming week.  The start of meteorological spring is only a little over 2 weeks away. There is still a considerable amount of snow on the ground so let’s hope for a rain free period during the melt.

Snow Depth Map

Snow Depth courtesy NOAA/NOHRSC

Great February Blizzard of 2011

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Well the blizzard is history now, but it was exciting to experience. That is, if you were able to do it from within the comfort of your own home. Some of the highlights during the event included:

  • Thundersnow. Without a doubt the most lightning and thunder I’ve ever experienced during a snowstorm. Simply amazing!
  • Wind – winds were sustained at 30-40 mph with gusts around 50 mph.
  • Snow intensity and visibility – the combination of heavy snow and strong winds resulted in visibilities around zero at times.

Backyard snow depth, 4 days after the blizzard.

Measuring Snow

For those of us that record weather observations, snow is one of the most challenging. Add a little wind (not to mention 50mph) and the task of determining an accurate snowfall measurement is even more daunting. After taking several measurements and averaging those out, I determined that we had around 11 inches of new snow on top of the 3 on the ground prior to the blizzard. The water equivalent measurement of the new snow was even more difficult since the winds prevented a good “catch” in the rain gauge. Drifts in the yard were over 3 feet in some locations.

If you had any weather related experiences that you’d like to share regarding this blizzard, please post a comment.