Now here’s a fair (and foul) weather job

Want to be a weather man or woman?

There will be a little bit of work involved, but you could contribute to a better forecasting system and a better understanding of weather trends on the Prairies.

The Western Producer’s parent company, Glacier Media, has recently acquired WeatherFarm, which in turn administers a weather reporting network called CoCoRaHS in Canada. That stands for Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

It operates across the United States but is just getting a foothold in Canada, with about 100 reporting farmers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan — most of them in Manitoba.

CoCoRaHS is, as its website explains, a non-profit, community-based network of volunteers who track precipitation in their areas. The findings are then reported on the website at www.cocorahs.org.

Once the reports come in, the information is displayed for analysts to use, including meteorologists, hydrologists, farmers and emergency managers. The information is useful for determining water resources and contributes to the provision of severe storm warnings.

The network got started at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998. The impetus behind it was the Fort Collins flood the previous year. A big rainstorm resulted in a huge flood, but there were only two rain gauges in the community at the time, which did not offer much in the way of precipitation information.

A similar event brought CoCoRaHS to Canada, when flooding hit Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Dakota in 2011.

The organization functions in part because of sponsorships, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation in the United States.

If you want to see how the data is displayed, click on View Data on the left side of the site. You can specify whether you are interested in Canada or the U.S. Then, for instance, you can click on daily precipitation reports and find out how much it rained in Morden, Man., Vibank, Sask., or one of the many other reporting stations.

For volunteers, there is a small financial commitment — specifically, a four-inch diameter rain gauge for about $30.

If interested, you can sign up at the bottom of the website’s home page. Contact them at Canada@cocorahs.org.

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