Purdue News

February 1, 2006

Indiana has newest anti-flood weapon: volunteer weather network

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A grassroots network focused on providing comprehensive information about precipitation nationwide is beginning operation in Indiana. A kickoff training session for network volunteers will take place Monday (Feb. 6) at the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service office in Marion County.

Bryn Takle demonstrates
a rain gauge

Download photo
caption below

The project, Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, is manned by backyard weather observers of all ages who are equipped with rain gauges. Network observers measure the amount of precipitation daily and report the results. Plans call for the Indiana segment of the program to start with at least 100 volunteers located throughout the state.

"Due to the large variability in precipitation around the state, it's important to have a dense network of observation points," said Bryn Takle, Purdue research scientist in the Indiana State Climate Office located on the West Lafayette campus. "This network will benefit everyone, including casual observers, meteorologists who must forecast floods and researchers studying thunderstorm patterns that are approaching urban areas."

Takle and Logan Johnson, a National Weather Service forecaster in Indianapolis, are Indiana co-coordinators for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, also known as CoCoRaHS. Purdue has already purchased 200 rain gauges for volunteers to use.

The precipitation-measuring network began at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998, partially in response to a flood in the area the previous year, said Dev Niyogi, Indiana state climatologist and Purdue agronomy and earth and atmospheric sciences assistant professor. The project has expanded to more than 2,500 volunteer observers located throughout 10 states and the District of Columbia.

The National Weather Service has partnered with the states and universities in the CoCoRaHS project, and its meteorologists use the data collected.

"Thousands of extremely dedicated volunteers across the nation already are working together on the project," Johnson said. "With so many weather enthusiasts in Indiana, the network should be as successful here as it has been elsewhere."

Johnson was instrumental in establishing the project in Kansas, where he served as network coordinator.

"This project not only is aimed at helping the weather service, but also in increasing the precipitation data available, educating the general public about weather and encouraging the average citizen to participate in meteorologic science," Niyogi said.

An interactive Web site maintained by the network makes it possible to see the data collected by volunteers posted on maps as soon as it's reported.

Niyogi, Takle and Johnson will provide training at 3 p.m. Monday (Feb. 6) at the Marion County Extension office, 6640 Intech Blvd., Suite 120, Indianapolis. The session is open to anyone interested in volunteering as a weather observer. The training will last approximately an hour and a half.

Writer: Susan A. Steeves, (765) 496-7481, ssteeves@purdue.edu

Sources: Dev Niyogi, (765) 494-6574, dniyogi@purdue.edu

Byrn Takle, (765) 494-6574, cocorahs@purdue.edu

Logan Johnson, (317) 856-0360, ext. 510, logan.johnson@noaa.gov

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page

 

Related Web sites:
Purdue Department of Agronomy

Purdue Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

National Weather Service Forecast Office, Indianapolis

 

PHOTO CAPTION:
The Purdue University Extension Service, State Climate Office and National Weather Service are launching a volunteer network to measure precipitation. The information that participants in Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network gather will help forecast floods and track weather patterns. Bryn Takle, co-coordinator of the project in Indiana, demonstrates the type of rain gauge volunteers will use daily. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2006/niyogi-precipitation.jpg

 

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