Become a citizen-scientist by joining the NJ Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network

A plastic rain gauge used in the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network.
Photo: Henry Reges/CoCoRaHS

Do you want to help scientists at Rutgers University keep track of the weather in New Jersey?

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), a nationwide volunteer network for observing precipitation, is seeking volunteer weather observers throughout the Garden State.

“Adding new observers in your community will provide a detailed picture of rain and snowfall patterns and benefit critical weather-related decision-making,” said David A. Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers and NJ CoCoRaHS co-coordinator.

The New Jersey program is run by the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist. Mathieu Gerbush, assistant New Jersey state climatologist, is program co-coordinator. Robinson also oversees the Rutgers NJ Weather Network, which provides near-real time and longer-term data on weather conditions in the state.

The community collaboration has more than 15,000 active observers in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including more than 250 in New Jersey.

Volunteers spend a few minutes each day reporting the amount of rain or snow that has fallen in their yards. All that is required to participate is a 4-inch diameter plastic rain gauge, a ruler to measure snow, a computer or cell phone and, most importantly, the desire to report weather conditions.

Observations from volunteers are widely used by scientists and agencies whose decisions depend on timely and high-quality precipitation data. Hydrologists and meteorologists use the data to warn about the potential impacts of flood and drought, for example.

“Weather matters to everybody – meteorologists, car and crop insurance companies, farmers, outdoor enthusiasts, motorists, homeowners,” according to CoCoRaHS founder and national director Nolan Doesken. “Precipitation is perhaps the most important but also the most highly variable element of our climate.”

“Rainfall amounts vary from one street to the next,” Doesken said. “It is wonderful having large numbers of enthusiastic volunteers and literally thousands of rain gauges to help track storms. We learn something new every day, and every volunteer makes a significant scientific contribution.”

Volunteers read their rain gauge or measure any snowfall at the same time every day (preferably between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.). Observers enter the data on the CoCoRaHS website or via a smartphone app, where they can be viewed in tables and maps. Training is provided for CoCoRaHS observers through online training modules or group training sessions held at different locations around New Jersey. Those interested in signing up or learning more about the program can visit the CoCoRaHS website at They can also contact Robinson at, 848-445-4741, or Gerbush at, 848-445-3076.