Frequently Asked Questions about CoCoRaHS Condition Monitoring
1) What is condition monitoring?
2) Why have we changed from drought impacts reporting to condition monitoring?
3) How do I submit a ‘condition monitoring’ report?
4) How has the reporting form changed from the previous drought impact report?
5) How do I know what to check on the condition scale bar?
6) How often should I submit reports?
7) What if I don’t have time to submit a full condition monitoring report? Can I just mark conditions on the scale bar?
8) How do I know what to write in a condition monitoring report?
9) What report categories should I check?
10) Who uses condition monitoring reports?
11) How do the people who read my reports know what normal conditions are for my area?
12) Is there a ‘best’ day or time to report?
13) What happened to my previous reports?
14) How can I access and view my new condition monitoring reports?
15) Can I submit photos?
16) Do you share observer contact information with anyone?
- What is condition monitoring?
Why have we changed from drought impacts reporting to condition monitoring?
- Condition monitoring is the regular recording of weather and its impacts on people, plants, and animals. In addition to daily precipitation measurements, observers submit short descriptions of how the amount of precipitation they have, or have not, received has affected their local environment and community.
How do I submit a ‘condition monitoring’ report?
- It is helpful to monitor conditions regularly whether it is wet or dry. Condition monitoring includes all impacts not just impacts from droughts. This can help us identify indicators of and recovery from drought.
How has the reporting form changed from the previous drought impact report?
- The CoCoRaHS website provides a step-by-step guide for submitting your report. Here is a link to the guide. The instructions are on pages 21-46 in the guide.
How do I know what to check on the condition scale bar?
- Report date: Previously the report form included a start date and end date. In order to simplify reporting and improve consistency we have replaced the start/end date fields with a “Report Date” field. Enter the date you submit your report here.
- Condition scale bar: The condition scale bar has been added to provide a standardized form of condition reporting. You can select from one of the 7 levels representing a range of dry, wet, or normal conditions. Here is a link to the condition monitoring guide that has more information on what each condition looks like.
- General awareness category: The “General Awareness” option provides a box to check when conditions may not have changed or if the other report levels are not appropriate for the content of your report. Reporting no change is equally as important as reporting zeros on days when you do not receive any precipitation. Please report “No change” in the description, as well as check the “General Awareness” box, if you do not have any updates to report on the conditions in your area.
- Deleted: The condition monitoring checkbox will no longer be necessary and has been removed from the data entry from. Everyone using the CoCoRaHS data entry form will be entering condition monitoring reports.
- Deleted: Due to a lack of reporting and some confusion about what values to enter, the economic value boxes were removed from the data entry form.
How often should I submit reports?
- Guidance is available through a link on the report form.
- Here is a link to the condition monitoring guide with specific guidance on pages 6 to 16.
What if I don’t have time to submit a full condition monitoring report? Can I just mark conditions on the scale bar?
- Once a week is ideal. Reporting on Saturday or Sunday will allow report users such as US Drought Monitor (USDM) authors to view updated information before they update the USDM map each week. Some observers report once/2 weeks to once/month which is also fine.
- It is most important to try to report consistently over time.
How do I know what to write in a condition monitoring report?
- While you might not have time to write a full condition monitoring report every week, even short reports can provide valuable information. If conditions are stable, a report of “no notable change in overall conditions this week” is useful information, just as reporting “0” in your daily precipitation is an important data point. If you would like your report to appear on the national Drought Impact Reporter, be sure to select one or more of the report categories.
What report categories should I check?
- Try to report on current conditions in the local area(s) near your station. This could include conditions at your home, neighborhood, or the community or county in which you live.
- Try to report on how conditions may have changed based on the amount of precipitation you have, or have not, received. You might also include information about how conditions are compared to past years or months.
- There is no right or wrong answer for what you are reporting, so give it your best try.
- Guidance is available through a link on the report.
- Here is a link to the condition monitoring guide with specific guidance on what to write in a condition monitoring report.
Who uses condition monitoring reports?
- The report categories you check at the bottom of the condition monitoring report form should correspond to the information you provide in your description of conditions. For suggestions on the types of things you might observe in the different categories, check out the link to “More information on condition monitoring categories” found on the report form.
How do the people who read my reports know what normal conditions are for my area?
- The reports are used by many entities interested in climate and landscape conditions.
- A few of the current users are:
- The Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) program
- The Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program
- The American Association of State Climatologists (AASC)
- The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)
- The National Drought Mitigation Center Drought Impact Reporter (NDMC DIR)
- US Drought Monitor (USDM) map authors
Is there a ‘best’ day or time to report?
- Many of the people who read condition monitoring reports are familiar with the different geographies and local climate conditions, such as US Drought monitor authors and those working in our state climate offices. However, any information you can provide about how current conditions might be different from what you would consider to be normal for that time of year is also helpful information to include in your report. For instance, you might share information on whether you have received above or below normal rainfall amounts for the year or if seasonal changes such as leaves turning or different plants blooming are early or delayed.
What happened to my previous reports?
- Yes, we request that weekly reports be submitted on Saturday or Sunday for consideration in weekly drought assessments and monitoring discussions, prior to the publication of the US Drought Monitor on Thursdays.
- Here is a link to the condition monitoring guide, with specific guidance on when to report on pages 19 and 20.
How can I access and view my new condition monitoring reports?
Can I submit photos?
- Your reports are still available in the CoCoRaHS archives, now listed as ‘condition monitoring’ reports. They are also available through the National Drought Mitigation Center Drought Impact Reporter.
Do you share observer contact information with anyone?
- Currently, there is not an option to submit photos through the CoCoRaHS website. However, you can submit photos through the national Drought Impact Reporter. Click on “Submit a Report”. The option to submit images is about 2/3 down the page. Please include your CoCoRaHS station number in the description of your photo. This will help the moderators of the NDIR to associate the photo with condition monitoring reports you have submitted through the CoCoRaHS website.
- We DO NOT share your contact information in any way. Your CoCoRaHS station number is the only publicly available identification information.