A GRASSROOTS community rainfall monitoring program is being developed to bring together rainfall information from landholders across Australia.
The program aims to give its “rainwatchers” a place to store and display their rain data and compare it with other rain watchers in the region and beyond.
The program is based on the US “Cocorahs”- Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow program where over 20,000 rain monitors contribute daily rain data. This data is displayed on a website map to show the variation in rainfall across the country.
Rainwatchers organiser Brad Henderson is seeking fellow rain watchers to grow a similar community program in Australia.
“’The saying rain doesn’t fall the same on all’ highlights the need for a program,” he said.
“In recent weeks we have again seen flooding across the state and when we look at the BoM’s network of gauges – there are often huge gaps.
“One of our rain watchers recorded 51.5mm on 9 September near Coleraine which was hit by the worst flooding in decades,” Mr Henderson said.
“The nearest Bureau of Meteorology gauge recorded 43.6mm.”
Mr Henderson said he knows there are hundreds more ‘rain watchers’ out there.
“We are calling for those rain watchers to connect with us so we can build our own network of gauges.
Corporate sponsor sought for website and app development
The rainwatchers concept is currently being supported by a Facebook page @rainwatchers, but Mr Henderson would like to develop a website and a smartphone app allowing rain watchers to input data directly into the website for all to see.
“We are seeking a corporate sponsor to help us build the program so we can make it available to all the rain watchers out there. In the meantime we are trying to connect up with any rain watchers interested in participating.
Mr Henderson he got the idea for a rainwatchers program 13 years ago when he was involved in a flood investigation for Burrumbeet Creek.
“When we called for rain and flood information from the community, we met Fon Ryan from Learmonth – the greatest rain watcher of all.
“Thanks to Fon’s 50 years of daily rainfall records, we were able to model flooding for the creek. And this is the potential benefit for the program – every day of keeping rainfall data counts,” he said.
“Not just during times of floods, but every day looking at your gauge is valuable.
“The US example demonstrates this and their advice has been critical in planning a program here. They have found their program to be as important for areas in drought,” Mr Henderson said.
The data is so valuable because it tells a story – it could be the story of huge rainfall causing floods – or years of little rainfall causing drought.
“Monitoring programs provide a place for each unique story to be told.”
Sponsors or volunteers can get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or through facebook @rainwatchersaustralia.