Wanted: Local weather trackers

For those of you who spent this past week tracking the series of rainstorms via a backyard rain gauge, climate-o-philes at Oregon State University would like to talk to you.

Coordinators of OSU's Oregon Climate Service program are looking for local weather-watchers to assist in reporting precipitation data to supplement data that comes from weather stations.

The program is part of a national Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, or CoCoRaHS.

The program has about 300 Oregonians who log rain, hail and snow data, but director Kathie Dello says she would like to greatly expand that number.

CoCoRaHS volunteers must buy a rain gauge for about $27 plus shipping, watch a short training video, and report as frequently as possible the amount of rainfall and snowfall in their area.

Interested persons should go to the CoCoRaHS website at www.cocorahs.org to sign up.

Dello said Oregon needs more volunteers throughout the state, especially in eastern and southern Oregon and along the coast. She is especially interested in people living along the foothills of the Cascade and Coast ranges who are at higher elevations than nearby weather stations such as the Medford airport.

Dello said many Oregon wineries are in such locales, so her group is looking to solicit some help there.

People interested in learning more about Oregon's finicky weather can follow Dello on Twitter at www.twitter.com/orclimatesvc

The Oregon State Marine Board is offering a free online paddling course for kayakers, canoers and stand-up paddlers to learn the rules of the waterways.

The course, offered through BoaterExam.com, is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. It focuses on how to read waterways, applicable state boating laws, what to do in case of an emergency and other tips designed to help boaters' know-how and operating skills.

The paddle course is optional and not required for Oregonians to hit the waterways in paddle crafts.

In 1999, the Oregon Legislature created a mandatory boater education law requiring operators of boats with motors larger than 10 horsepower to take an approved boating safety course and carry a boater-education card when operating a boat. This program was phased in based on the boat operator's age, and by 2009 all boaters were required to carry a card.

Since then, the Marine Board has issued nearly 300,000 boater education cards and has tracked a decline in boating accidents.

For more information, see the Marine Board's website at www.boatoregon.com.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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