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January 11, 2008

ULM and Delta professors crucial in new rainfall network

Louisiana recently joined a growing national precipitation network using community volunteers to measure and map precipitation, thanks to professors from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and Delta Community College.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network is a unique, nonprofit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation including rain, hail and snow.

Dr. Boniface Mills, an assistant professor of atmospheric sciences at ULM, is the Ouachita Parish Local CoCoRaHS Coordinator. Of the initiative he said, "The combination of using a low-cost measurement tool like a four-inch rain gauge, proper observer training and utilizing an interactive web-site will provide the quality data to educators and scientists for many environmental and meteorology/climatology projects on so many levels."

Volunteers will measure and record precipitation, then submit data to the CoCoRaHS website where it is plotted with other reporting stations for analysis. The data is used by the National Weather Service, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities, insurance adjusters, mosquito control, farmers, teachers, students, and anyone interested in precipitation data.

Currently CoCoRaHS has over 6,500 observers in 27 states with a potential goal of 20,000 by 2010 as more states are added. Nine additional states will become active in 2008.

CoCoRaHS originated with the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998 in response to the Fort Collins flood of 1997. The Louisiana project was made possible via a collaborative effort between Colorado State, Louisiana State University, University of Louisiana at Monroe, Delta Community College, and the National Weather Service.

Don Wheeler, ULM adjunct atmospheric science instructor and assistant professor at Delta Community College, is the State Coordinator of the CoCoRaHS network for Louisiana. "This network is a very exciting and valuable product to the science community" he said. "Not only is the data available for research purposes, it is available to anyone in need of precipitation measurements," added Wheeler.

How to get involved:

The general public is invited to participate in this initiative. 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 lives," said Wheeler.

Each time a rain, hail, or snow storm crosses the area, volunteers take measurements of precipitation from as many locations as possible using a standard scientific rain gauge observers purchase for about $30. Reports are then uploaded to the CoCoRaHS website where the data is organized and displayed.

Anyone interested in participating can find more information at the CoCoRaHS website:

Further questions can be directed to the coordinators listed below:

Don Wheeler
Delta Community College
Monroe, Louisiana
Phone: (318) 342-3722

Malcolm Moreau
Louisiana State University, Southern Regional Climate Center
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Phone: (225) 578-5021

Northeast Louisiana
Dan Byrd
National Weather Service, Jackson, Mississippi
Phone: (601) 936-2189

Northwest Louisiana
Aaron Stevens and Jason Hansford
National Weather Service, Shreveport, Louisiana
Phone: (318) 631-3669
email: and

Ouachita Parish
Boniface Mills
University of Louisiana at Monroe
Phone: (318) 342-1893

Southwest Louisiana
Jonathan Brazzell and Donovan Landreneau
National Weather Service
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Phone: (337) 477-5285
email: and

Southeast Louisiana
Robert Ricks
National Weather Service
New Orleans/Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Phone: (504) 522-7330, email:

Jefferson Parish and Greater New Orleans Area
Gary Shuford
Gretna, Louisiana
Phone: (504) 394-8145

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