Friday, Jan. 19

Grass-roots volunteer program wants weather watchers in Illinois       Send a link to a friend

[JAN. 19, 2007]  CHAMPAIGN -- Weather affects all of us and can vary greatly even over short distances. In an effort to increase the density of rainfall observations over the United States, a fast-growing volunteer program needs weather observers in Illinois.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network began in Colorado and already has more than 2,500 observers in 14 states. Program coordinators for Illinois are the Illinois State Water Survey, the National Weather Service and the University of Illinois Extension natural resources management team.

"This project benefits the entire state. Anyone can help, regardless of age or education," said Steve Hilberg, meteorologist with the Illinois State Water Survey and co-coordinator for the program in Illinois.

The nonprofit network stresses training and education. The National Science Foundation and other contributors provide funding. The volunteers are backyard weather observers of all ages, working together to measure and map local precipitation as rain, hail and snow.

The volunteers use low-cost measurement tools and an interactive website to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications. Data users include organizations and individuals. Climatologists, hydrologists, water managers and the National Weather Service use these data to monitor drought, heavy rainfall and precipitation patterns.

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"The only requirements for observers are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions, and a desire to learn more about weather impacts on our lives. Participation takes just a few minutes a day," adds Hilberg.

Training is required, and local training sessions teach new observers how to install their instruments and measure precipitation.

A workshop will be conducted at the Illinois State Water Survey in Champaign at 7 p.m. on Feb. 1. The office is at 2204 Griffith Drive, near the intersection of First Street and Windsor Road.

There is no charge, but participants must preregister. Call 217-333-8495 or register by e-mail to

Additional training is scheduled on Feb. 3 in Lincoln, Feb. 13 in Morton and Feb. 26 in St. Charles.

For more details about the network or schedules, visit

A related news story also is available: "Backyard weather network set to expand."

[Illinois State Water Survey news release]

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