Information on how to join the network of volunteer observers is at the bottom of this article.
First, here's why this network is so vital. Meteorologist Michelle Margraf at the National Weather Service Twin Cities office says "the National Weather Service uses reports from CoCoRaHS observers of rain, snow, hail, flooding, drought conditions, storm damage, etc. in our daily maps and models, and during severe weather operations."
Furthermore, Margraf says there is a major need for more weather reports from volunteers in Western Wisconsin. "The more reports we have from the area, the better we are able to understand the weather's impact and support our mission to protect lives and property."
Margraf says they can't have enough of these volunteers for multiple reasons. One is that not every observer is able to send reports every day, and the other has to do with how localized weather really is. "We are always amazed by how much the precipitation amount can vary in short distances, so the more observers we have in an area the better."
The problem is, there are a lot of spots with very few or little reports in Western Wisconsin. The National Weather Service is looking for observers from any location, but especially in area voids. Margraf says, "There are several areas where additional reports would be very helpful, including north and east of Chippewa Falls, and south of Eau Claire."
She sent a map (below) of reports received from last Thursday and Friday, where the lack of observers in especially rural areas is extremely apparent.
This very simple network of these volunteer observers is called CoCoRaHS. It stands for Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow. Simply put, people volunteer to send back rain and snow reports once per day.
All that an observer needs to do is measure precipitation each day and report that to the network, which is available online to the general public along with NWS Meteorologists.
To sign up, fill out this simple application.
It does require you to purchase a standardized rain gauge available here. It is on sale (as of March 23rd) for $32.75.
If you would like to support this cause but are unable to dedicate the time each day, there is a way to sponsor one for a school. Information on how to sponsor are available here.
For schools, it is a great compliment to STEM education. There are even lesson plans online for teachers or parents to follow along with their kids.