The Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network is conducting March Madness 2010 to recruit volunteers for measuring precipitation and Mississippi State University researchers are recruiting participants for the program.

“The CoCoRaHS program is a national effort for measuring precipitation in each state, and relies on volunteers to record data. We are hoping to enlist additional observers from the agriculturally-based Delta,” said Nancy Lopez, a USDA physical scientist specializing in weather research at MSU’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss.

With 249 observers, Mississippi is second behind North Dakota. States compete during March to enlist the greatest number of new volunteers.

Volunteers use official rain gauges to measure rain, hail or snow and record data daily on the program’s Web site. No other special equipment is needed. Recordings help climatologists, hydrologists, water managers and the National Weather Service monitor and predict droughts, heavy rainfall and precipitation patterns.

The program would like to have observers from every county of Mississippi, especially in the Delta.

“Weather measurements are particularly important in the Delta where agriculture plays a large part in the economy. Our data can help producers determine water management strategies, irrigation levels and insect treatments,” said Kathy Sherman-Morris, MSU geosciences professor and coordinator of Mississippi’s CoCoRaHS.

Storms tend to intensify over the Delta and observers in that area can provide information to help other areas of the state.

“We especially need observers in Carroll, Coahoma, Humphreys, Sunflower, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Tunica and Yazoo counties,” Lopez said.

Several DREC employees track precipitation patterns because they understand the importance of weather for agriculture.

DREC research associate Jim Nichols gathers weather data for the program.

“The system is easy to follow and takes about 10 seconds to record each morning. And, recording a lack of rainfall is just as important as when it does rain,” Nichols said.

Daily precipitation measurements are vital to many Mississippians. The data can help determine the health of food crops, indicate soil and drought conditions and help track storms. Mississippi receives an average of 52 inches of rain a year, Lopez said.

The CoCoRaHS program was developed in Colorado in 1998, and is present in every state. Mississippi joined in Aug. 2008.

To volunteer for the program, visit the website CoCoRaHS. For further information contact Nancy Lopez at (662) 686-3395 or nlopez@oce.usda.gov, or Kathy Sherman-Morris at (662) 325-4243 or kms5@geosci.msstate.edu.