Georgia weather experts need precise, timely information on the amount of rain and when it falls across the state. With good access to the Web and rain gauges in hand, citizens can help.

The non-profit organization Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, known as CoCoRaHS, is looking for volunteers to collect rainfall data in Georgia, said Pam Knox, the state’s assistant state climatologist and researcher with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“This is a great chance for weather enthusiasts and average citizens to be part of a project that collects vital rainfall data,” said Knox. “The data is readily available to the general public and other organizations. It is also critically important to understanding how rainfall varies around the state in times of limited water supply, such as the current drought in Georgia.”

So far, 150 Georgians from 58 counties have signed up this spring, she said. But more volunteers are needed, particularly in south Georgia.

Volunteers must purchase and use a rain gauge able to measure to the one-hundredth of an inch. A good one costs $22 plus shipping and handling, she said. They will be trained to use an interactive Web site to post data.

Information the volunteers collect will be used by climatologists, hydrologists, water resource managers, UGA Cooperative Extension agents and experts with the National Weather Service, she said.

“Official measuring stations across the state are sparse, and rainfall can vary quite a bit over short distances,” Knox said. “With trained volunteers, CoCoRaHS helps fill these gaps and supply users with a better picture of rainfall patterns.”

An introductory meeting and training session will be held on the UGA campus in Athens on May 22 at 7:30 pm in the Driftmier Engineering Center auditorium on Agriculture Drive. The guest speaker will be Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken, the founder of the CoCoRaHS network.

The CoCoRaHS program started in Colorado in 1998. The network now includes 31 states and more than 9,000 observers who take daily measurements of rain, hail or snow. It is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation.

To volunteer or to learn more, visit the Web site www.cocorahs.org or, send an e-mail to pknox@uga.edu.