Volunteers are being asked to share precipitation information for a national network. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Volunteers in Iowa are being asked to share precipitation information for a national network. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

If you’re a gardener, you’re likely already keeping track of precipitation where you live.

Iowa is recruiting volunteers to do so on a daily basis as part of a nationwide network.

I looked up the rain gauge the network sells and it’s about $30, and it sounds like you can use your own, if you already have one. The network is especially interested in recruiting for nearly 20 counties. Those are listed below, along with the following info, sent today from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship:

DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s State Climatology Office and the National Weather Service are recruiting volunteer precipitation observers across Iowa to participate in the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network, known as “CoCoRaHS.”

All that is needed to participate is an interest in the weather, a four inch diameter rain gauge, a suitable location to set up the gauge and access to the internet. All data collected are immediately available for free online and are routinely used for flood forecasting, drought assessment, news media stories, scientific research and general weather interest.

More information about the network is available on the CoCoRaHS web site at www.cocorahs.org. The website includes information on how to join, where to purchase your rain gauge and how to accurately measure and report rain and snow.

The network was established by the Colorado Climate Center in 1998 and has now spread to all fifty states and Canada. Iowa joined this volunteer network in 2007 and now has over 300 registered CoCoRaHS observers across the state. However, more observers are needed to better document the amount and variability of rain and snow across Iowa. The need for additional observers is particularly critical in the following counties: Adams, Allamakee, Audubon, Calhoun, Cedar, Davis, Delaware, Jefferson, Keokuk, Louisa, Lucas, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Van Buren, Wapello, Wayne and Wright.

“In 2014 Iowa experienced a mostly wet year with record flooding in far northwest Iowa in June along with record high annual precipitation totals set at Denison and Greenfield, allowing current soil moisture levels to be the highest they have been for this time of year since 2011,” said Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist for Iowa. “Whatever comes our way in 2015, the weather observations obtained by this network can be of great benefit in obtaining a clearer picture of Iowa’s weather.”