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Volunteer weather observers needed in Scott County

Since 1978, the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Jordan has been part of the Minnesota Soil and Water Conservation District’s Rain Gauge Observation Program. The Scott SWCD is currently looking for new community members to join our volunteer team!

The State of Minnesota relies on volunteer observers to collect data on Scott County’s precipitation. The information collected provides empirical insight for weather, water supply, and flood forecasts, for assessing drought severity and impacts, for severe storm prediction, and so much more. No prior experience with data collection is required.

“Rain gauge observers are invaluable resources for reporting to the State's weather data system. They help us track and learn from major weather events happening within the county,” Shelby Roberts, SWCD rain gauge program coordinator, states.

Scott County currently has 10 volunteer observers. The SWCD is looking for additional volunteers in the Elko New Market, Helena Township, Blakely Township, and Cedar Lake Township areas to send daily precipitation readings to the District on a monthly basis.

Denis Haack, a rain gauge observer since 2015 reflects upon his experience. “Being a part of a coordinated effort to track precipitation patterns and climate change over time has been deeply satisfying. Besides, as an observer in Minnesota I have something to say in every conversation because here the weather always comes up!”

Observation is especially important in rural Minnesota where consistent coverage from automated stations is not as frequent. “Weather stations don’t have the same hands-on capabilities that humans do when it comes to measuring snow. We rely heavily on people to give us the quick and precise numbers.” Roberts states.


Volunteers are provided all observation equipment including:

· An official All Weather Rain Gauge

· All necessary data-collection forms

· Envelopes and postage for mailing collection forms

After the District collects the data, it is sent to the State Climatology Office at the University of Minnesota. Many environmental protection organizations use the rain gauge data to solve complex problems dealing with hydrology, agriculture, soil erosion control and engineering. In addition, the data is used in the planning and design of natural resource conservation practices, e.g., ag waste systems and stabilization projects. Rain gauge observers are the first step in gathering these insights.

If you would like to volunteer for the Scott SWCD Rain Gauge Observer Program, or would like additional program information please call Shelby Roberts, (952) 492-5448.


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