CoCoRaHS ~ because every drop counts! (Citizens and schools can help measure precipitation)

December 4, 2017

CoCoRaHS (pronounced KO-ko-rozz) 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).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are major sponsors of CoCoRaHS. Other organizations have contributed either financially, and/or with supplies and equipment.

CoCoRaHS has over 20,000 volunteer observers in all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and the Bahamas. Of the network’s 333 coordinators, 254 work closely with NOAA.

By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive website and apps, the aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications.

Why is there so much interest in rain, hail and snow?

Precipitation is essential for life. It varies greatly with topography, storm type and season. It really is true  that  it  may  pour  on  one  side  of  the  street and be dry on the other. A portion of a field may be pounded by hail while others nearby receive no damage. Snowfall may pile up in one neighborhood and only dust another. Rain, hail and snow are fairly easy to measure, and the data collected are very important.

Who uses CoCoRaHS?

CoCoRaHS is used by a wide variety of organizations and individuals. The National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (water supply, water conservation, storm water), insurance adjusters, USDA, engineers, mosquito control, ranchers and farmers, outdoor & recreation interests, teachers, students, and neighbors in the community are just some examples of those who visit their Web site and use the data.

What does a volunteer observer do?

Each time a rain, hail or snow storm crosses your area, volunteers take measurements of precipitation from as many locations as possible. These precipitation reports are then recorded online at or through CoCoRaHS’ app.

The data are then displayed and organized for many of their end users to analyze and apply to daily situations ranging from water resource analysis and severe storm warnings to neighbors comparing how much rain fell in their backyards.

It’s easy to join, takes only five minutes a day and is a fun way to learn about weather.

People of all ages can help. The only requirements are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can affect and impact our lives.

Complimentary training is provided to help you become an effective weather observer. Check out your state page for a list of current training sessions in your local area.  If none are taking place at the current time, CoCoRaHS has online and PDF Training Slideshows.

Can schools participate?

Absolutely! A great benefit of CoCoRaHS is that it provides real science activities for the classroom in public, private, and home schools. Over the last several years CoCoRaHS staff has worked with science teachers to develop a series of lesson plans and activities. These lesson plans are available for a variety of grade levels and are built around CoCoRaHS’s emphasis on measuring precipitation.

Watch and share below short CoCoRaHS for Schools video…


CoCoRaHS also has lesson plans and activities developed for the 4-H Program that are aligned with National Science Education Standards (NSES) for grades K-4, 5-8 and 9-12. Visit CoCoRaHS for Schools to learn how your school or program can join.

Help spread the word

Please take a moment to share this post and tell a friend or neighbor about CoCoRaHS exciting grassroots effort of citizens measuring precipitation in their own backyards. Again, it’s easy to join, takes only 5 minutes a day and your observations give scientists an ever clearer picture of where and how much precipitation falls throughout our communities.

Learn more about CoCoRaHS at and follow them on their blog, Facebook and Twitter and get involved!


Flood safety tips and resources

August 26, 2017

Floods are the most common natural disaster. Some floods develop over a period of several days, but a flash flood can cause raging waters in just a few minutes.

Mudflows are another danger triggered by flooding that can bury villages without warning, especially in mountainous regions.

Everyone is at risk from floods and flash floods, even in areas that seem harmless in dry weather. Always listen to the radio or TV to hear the latest updates. Some other types of radios are the NOAA Weather Radio and Environment Canada Weatheradio with battery backup and tone-alert feature that alert you when a Watch or Warning has been issued.



Prepare – Review some Flood Mitigation tips

Learn the buzzwords – Learn the terms / words used with floods…

  • Flood watch – flooding is possible
  • Flash flood watch – flash flooding is possible so move to higher ground if in a low-lying area
  • Flood warning – flooding is occurring or will occur soon so listen to radio or TV for updates or evacuation alerts
  • Flash flood warning – flash flood is occurring so seek higher ground on foot immediately
  • Urban and Small Stream Advisory – flooding of small streams, streets and low-lying areas is occurring

Learn risks – Ask local emergency management office if your property is a flood-prone or high-risk area and what you can do to reduce risks to your property and home. Find out what official flood warning signals are and what to do when you hear them. Ask if there are dams or levees nearby and if they could be hazards.  

Be ready to evacuate – Listen to local authorities and leave if you are told to evacuate.  

Make a plan – Develop a Family Emergency Plan and Disaster Supplies Kit. And download Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium’s “Flood Recovery Booklet” to learn how to dry materials like artwork, books, photographs, etc. at

Learn to shut off – Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves — and ask local utilities for instructions.

Get insurance…? – Talk to your agent and find out more about the National Flood Insurance Program or visit

Did you know…

  • you can buy federal flood insurance through most major insurance companies and licensed agents?!
  • you do not have to own a home to have flood insurance as long as your community participates in the NFIP?!
  • NFIP offers coverage even in flood-prone areas and offers basement and below ground level coverage?!

Put it on film/chip/drive – Either videotape or take pictures of home and personal belongings and store them in a safe place with important papers.



Be aware – Listen to local news and watch for flash floods especially if near streams, drainage channels, and areas known to flood. Be prepared to fill and place sandbags in areas as instructed to help combat rising waters.

Get to higher ground – If in a low-lying area, move to higher ground.

Prepare to evacuate – Review some evacuation tips, and IF time also…

  • Secure home and move important items to upper floors.
  • Turn off utilities at main switches or valves if instructed by authorities and DO NOT touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water!
  • Fill up your car with fuel.

Obey warnings – If road signs, barricades, or cones are placed in areas – DO NOT drive around them! Find another way or you may get fined.

Things to avoid:

  • moving water – 6 inches (15 cm) of moving water can knock you off your feet and 2 ft (0.6 m) can float a car
  • flooding car – if flood waters rise around your car, get out and move to higher ground if you can do it safely
  • bad weather – leave early enough so you’re not trapped
  • flooded areas – roadways and bridges may be washed-out
  • downed power lines – extremely dangerous in floods!!



Things to avoid:

  • flood waters – avoid since they may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage or may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines – local authorities will say when it’s okay to return
  • moving water – 6 inches (15 cm) can knock you off your feet and 2 ft (0.6 m) can float a car
  • flooded areas – roadways and bridges may be washed-out
  • downed power lines – extremely dangerous and report them to the power company

Obey warnings – If road signs, barricades, or cones are placed in areas – OBEY THEM! Most areas fine people who ignore posted warnings. DO NOT drive around barricades… find another way to get there!

Strange critters – Watch out for snakes and other wildlife in areas that were flooded. Don’t try to care for a wounded critter since it may try to attack you… call your local animal control office or animal shelter.

Flooded food – Throw away food that has come into contact with flood waters since eating it can make you sick.

Drinking water – Wait for officials to advise when water is safe to drink. If you have a well that gets contaminated, find another source or boil water.

Wash your hands – Wash hands often with clean water and soap since flood waters are dirty and full of germs!

Use bleach – The best thing to use for cleaning up flooded areas is household bleach since it helps kill germs.

Sandbags – If any sandbags come into contact with floodwaters, wear rubber gloves when removing them and follow officials’ instructions on where to discard them since they’re most likely contaminated.

Listen – Continue listening to radio or TV for updates on weather and tips on getting assistance for housing, clothing, food, etc.

Insurance – Call your insurance agent or representative to discuss claims.

Mold – Consider asking a restoration professional to inspect your house for mold and visit for flood cleanup tips.

Above extracted from our book called IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it?

Additional resources:

Flood mitigation and safety resources

Information and tips about NOAA Weather Radios

Landslide and debris flow safety tips

Tips and resources about disaster declarations, response, assistance and recovery


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