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Weather watchers monitor climate

Donna Gray

Weather watchers old and new learned how to measure snowfall from Colorado State University research climatologist Nolan Doesken this week. Most of the 12 weather watchers who showed up for the training session are part of the Community Collaborative Rain and Hail Study, (CoCoRaHS), a network of 900 volunteer weather observers across Colorado who measure rain, hail and snow and post their results every day to CSU’s Climate Center either by Internet or phone.Daily results help researchers like Doesken create detailed maps of where storms form and how they move across the landscape.The project is expanding to Wyoming and Kansas.Doesken led the Glenwood Springs volunteers through the intricacies of trapping and measuring snow in a mountain environment. Some of his sage advice included not putting the plastic rain gauge on the stove to melt the snow.He also counseled the volunteers not to place the gauges too close to the house. “It’s a district temptation to measure close to the house,” he chuckled, but those readings will be skewed because more snow accumulates around buildings.Stepping off about 10 paces, the lanky Doesken advised taking a few extra steps to place the gauge in a open spot that’s sheltered from the wind.Although a scientist by profession, Doesken is also a pragmatist, and he urged his weather watchers to “do the best you can but be consistent.” Volunteer recruiting efforts in four Western Slope communities “have taken off,” Doesken said. Glenwood Springs, Durango, Cortez and Grand Junction all have seen increasing numbers of volunteers recently.”Garfield County has been a big success,” he added.Glenwood Springs also has longtime volunteers such as Barb Embry, who has measured rain, snow and hail for the past 14 years.”I haven’t missed a day,” Embry said.Volunteers are always needed, and adults and students from grades 4 to 12 are encouraged to apply.Volunteers are always needed, and adults and students from grades 4 to 12 are encouraged to apply.


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