Need a New Hobby? Be a Rainfall Reader!

RainThe Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is looking for volunteer weather observers in the Newark area.  CoCoRaHS, a nationwide volunteer precipitation-observing network, welcomed New Jersey into the program in early 2008.  The rapidly expanding precipitation monitoring program now has more than 11,000 active volunteer observers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and over 200 in NJ. Based out of the Office of the NJ State Climatologist at Rutgers University, NJ CoCoRaHS is looking to enlist volunteers of all ages near Newark to take a few minutes to report the amount of rain or snow that has fallen in their backyards each day. All that is required to participate is a 4″ diameter plastic rain gauge, a ruler to measure snow, an internet-connected computer, and most importantly, the desire to watch and report weather conditions.

Observations from CoCoRaHS volunteers are widely used by scientists and agencies whose decisions depend on timely and high-quality precipitation data. For example, hydrologists and meteorologists use the data to warn about the potential impacts of flood and drought.

“Weather matters to everybody –meteorologists, car and crop insurance companies, outdoor enthusiasts and homeowners,” according to CoCoRaHS founder and national director Nolan Doesken. “Precipitation is perhaps the most important, but also the most highly variable element of our climate.”

The addition of hundreds of NJ CoCoRaHS observations will supplement the current automated NJ Weather and Climate Network. As Dave Robinson, NJ State Climatologist and NJ CoCoRaHS co-coordinator, notes, “The wealth of observations provide a much more detailed picture of rain and snowfall patterns than previously possible.”

“Rainfall amounts vary from one street to the next”, says Doesken. “It is wonderful having large numbers of enthusiastic volunteers and literally thousands of rain gauges to help track storms. We learn something new every day, and every volunteer makes a significant scientific contribution.”

CoCoRaHS volunteers are asked to read their rain gauge or measure any snowfall at the same time each day (preferably between 5 and 9 AM). Measurements are then entered by the observer on the CoCoRaHS website where they can be viewed in tables and maps. Training is provided for CoCoRaHS observers, either through online training modules, or preferably, in group training sessions that are held at different locations around NJ. In this video, created by CoCoRaHS headquarters, Doesken introduces viewers to several people who explain why they enjoy reporting for this dynamic citizen scientist organization.

“Anyone interested in signing up or learning more about the program can visit the CoCoRaHS website at,” says Mathieu Gerbush, Service Climatologist in the Office of the NJ State Climatologist and program co-coordinator. “We’re looking forward to welcoming new volunteers into the NJ CoCoRaHS program.”

For more information, contact the NJ CoCoRaHS state coordinators:

Dr. David Robinson, Rutgers University,, 848-445-4741
Mr. Mathieu Gerbush, Rutgers University,, 848-445-3076


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