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Wanted: Area volunteers to take part in precipitation collaboration

Dangerous flooding events, like a 100-year deluge that swamped south Lawton in May 2015, could be better forecast, and lives might potentially be saved and property damages avoided, if more people volunteer to take part in a precipitation collaboration.

There are other reasons, too, why people in Comanche and other counties in the area ought to consider joining the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS). Another goal, according to Charles Kuster, a meteorologist at the University of Oklahoma, is for area farmers and ranchers to be able to access a map, updated daily online, detailing precipitation totals recorded not just in a single gauge located possibly miles away, but maybe just down the road or even on his own property. That would allow for more informed decision making about things like when and where to seed crops and graze cattle.

Kuster said that, ideally, the CoCoRaHS network will draw 10-15 people in every county in Oklahoma. Currently, Comanche County has about half that number. Stephens County has just one volunteer. There are four in Caddo County and four in Jackson County.

"We have about 150 active volunteers across the state," he said. "With how crazy the weather is in our state and how localized it can be, we need more."

Gauges monitored by network volunteers are fairly sophisticated. They make it easy to measure rain to the one-hundredth of an inch and also to measure things like the water content in fallen snow. People who volunteer ideally would check their gauges daily at around the same time of day and would log on to the CoCoRaHS website to record their findings.

Kuster said it would be the very best to have network volunteers enough to monitor every square mile in every county. That's because of the nature of precipitation  a storm that drenches west Lawton might not affect east Lawton at all. Rain that falls in certain parts of the county might much more likely result in flooding downstream the next day than rain that falls in some other part of the county.

The Lawton Constitution

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