Weather | Observations

A New Water Year

Deploying diligence to record daily data

Dawn Nelson
3 min readOct 2, 2023

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The Sunday Dispatch ~ October 1, 2023

The thick of fog brings a trace of precipitation. Photo by author, © Dawn Nelson.

Another water year comes to a close and a new one begins.

It’s a different kind of new year. A time to reflect and look back upon a year of data collection and reporting and the diligence to make it all happen. Similarly, to look forward with resolve to strengthen a process and method, or simply continue on with what you have found to work best.

Collecting precipitation data on a daily basis has been a comforting practice for me for more than ten years. There is something quite grounding about recording the details of the weather and climate.

To collect the data, all you need is a rain gauge placed somewhere outside that will collect a sufficient amount of rainfall to be measured. Every morning, you check the gauge, record the levels in tenths of an inch, empty it out, and put it back in place for another day.

Easy enough.

So what exactly is a water year?

Water years generally begin in October and end in September. It serves as a way to measure changes in the hydrological record from year to year. Today marks the beginning of the new water year for 2024. Notably, water years begin before the snow falls and creates the snowpack that will melt in the spring season.

I started recording precipitation reports into a national database before I moved to where I live now. I moved only a short distance, perhaps no more than five miles, but it was enough to create a new observation station number in the Cocorahs system.

What is Cocorahs? It is the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, an academic-citizen science partner project based at the Colorado State University. Volunteers from across the continent can outfit their outdoor space with an official rain gauge, apply for a station number, and start submitting data on a daily basis.

It is a nice community to join.

Admittedly, I don’t always submit my data every day, but I most definitely write it down in my logbook. So this morning as I was catching up on submitting my reports in the system, I…

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Dawn Nelson

Artist, writer, strategist ~ writing creative nonfiction, memoir, essay. WIP: 0100 Series & The Sunday Dispatch.