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Volunteer weather recorders sought

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By The Staff

Fayette County Extension
A volunteer weather program is looking for weather observers to measure precipitation in Vandalia, St. Elmo, Brownstown and other communities throughout Central and Southeastern Illinois, and a training session for the volunteers is set for Monday.
Participation requires only a few minutes each day and provides a valuable service to the community. Training is provided and no prior experience is necessary.
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network is a grassroots national program of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow) in their local communities.
Observers use a standard 4-inch rain gauge to measure precipitation, which is then reported each day on the CoCoRaHS web site.
The precipitation measurements are shared with others throughout the country.
Anyone familiar with Illinois weather has probably seen storms that produce markedly varied rainfall and snowfall patterns within short distances.
“The amount you get might be quite different than what your neighbor a mile down the road gets,” said Rachelle Hollinshead, Fayette County Extension director.
“This is a great activity for those who want to learn more about the weather and climate or those who are involved in activities such as gardening or farming.”
High-quality observations made by CoCoRaHS volunteers are used by a wide variety of organizations and individuals, including the National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (for issues related to water supply, conservation, and stormwater), insurance adjusters, U.S. Department of Agriculture, engineers, mosquito-control specialists, farmers, outdoor and recreational interests, teachers, students and neighbors in the community.  
“The more rainfall observers we have, the better we can describe the amount and extent of precipitation in Illinois’” said Steve Hilberg, Illinois CoCoRaHS co-coordinator.
“CoCoRaHS observers are a valuable supplement to the daily weather observations by National Weather Service observers.
“Our volunteer observers were instrumental in helping monitor the drought this past summer and fall in Illinois,” he said.
An information and training session for anyone interested in participating in this program will be held at 6:30 p.m. next Monday at the Fayette County Extension Office, 118 N. Sixth St., Vandalia.
To register, or to get more information, contact the Fayette County Extension Office at 283-2753.
CoCoRaHS, a nonprofit organization, is supported by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other contributors. CoCoRaHS in Illinois is coordinated by the Illinois State Water Survey, National Weather Service and University of Illinois Extension Natural Resources Management Team.