I was surprised to see the precipitation observations I report every day as a CoCoRaHS volunteer being taken as gospel by Environment Canada, as per this info box in an article about the latest snowstorm in The Guardian:
Later I read that CoCoRaHS volunteers are “Environment Canada-trained” (we aren’t, or at least I’m not) in this CBC PEI article:
It seems the source for all this officialness is an Environment Canada daily weather summary for PEI, and there’s my 12cm in Foxley River once again:
Environment Canada does not operate CoCoRaHS, though they are able to access the data, which is free and open to all. They do say at the bottom of the report that it “may contain preliminary or unofficial information”, and that would be me, the Foxley River unofficial official.
I know that at least a couple of the PEI CoCoRaHS volunteers are highly trained, one a former military meteorologist and another a NAV Canada air traffic controller. I suspect the rest of us are just weather nerds with a little time on our hands.
The CoCoRaHS volunteer training is self-directed, a handbook, articles and videos all available on their website. To be a volunteer, you have to commit to submitting observations every day, ideally at the same time each morning, and you need to purchase a rain gauge from them. If you are going to measure snow, you need a ruler and a snow board to take the measurements from. That’s it.
I have a couple of diaries my great-grandfather Ernest Hardy used as the keeper of the Little Channel Lighthouse. He had to record the time he extinguished and lit the light each day, and he also recorded the weather. He was sort of unofficially-official, too, like me.