Bruce and I just put up my new, professional-quality rain gauge. Now I can report rainfall or other precipitation every day to CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network. Pronounced KO-ko-razz, this project brings together volunteers all over the US, Canada, and the Bahamas “to provide highest quality data for natural resource, education, and research applications.” CoCoRaHS volunteers can also report extreme weather situations as they occur and weekly condition reports that track the weather’s effect on everything from plants to tourists to the local mood.

I learned about CoCoRaHS and got a free rain gauge through the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and its North Carolina Climate Change Challenge. The big gauge funnels rain into a small tube inside a larger one. The small tube holds up to one inch of rain, with markings that let you measure it to hundredths of that inch. When it rains more than that, the water flows into the outer container. You dump out the inner tube, pour liquid in from the outer one, and repeat until you’ve measured it all. It holds up to eleven inches total, which I hope never to see in one day!

The mounting directions say to attach the gauge to a post so that the top of the gauge is six inches higher. Bruce pointed out that this prevents drops from splashing off the post and up into the collection funnel. Fortunately, the signpost by the front bench still had one side free.

I’m excited about this project. It should encourage me to track rainfall more regularly, so I know when to water plants in their first year of residence. (All new native plants get an inch of water a week.) The data I send in may also help meteorologists track local weather, and other researchers analyze the effects of climate change. Because we are in times of unprecedented climate change, these reports could help people get a grip on what is happening. Maybe they will even inspire us to respond with an appropriate level of urgency!