Weather Service needs volunteer
By IRENE NOLAN
National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., is looking for citizens to
volunteer to measure precipitation and to serve as SKYWARN spotters.
“We are in need of new observers across the entire state and would like
to emphasize rural locations and areas near the coast, especially on
barrier islands,” says David Glenn, a meteorologist with the National
Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City.
Volunteers to measure precipitation would be especially valuable during
such storm events as hurricanes, when rainfall can vary greatly at
different Outer Banks locations, the Weather Service says.
As part of its recruitment of Outer Banks volunteers, National Weather
Service staffer John Cole will be training citizens for the SKYWARN
Spotter Network and the introducing the Community Collaborative Rain,
Hail and Snow Network on Thursday, March 24, from 5 to 7 p.m. The
training will be held at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Building,
23186 Myrna Peters Dr., Rodanthe, or milepost 39.5 in Rodanthe.
However, you do not have to attend this meeting to become a backyard
Volunteers are needed for two programs.
SKYWARN spotters are essential information sources for the National
Weather Service with the responsibility to identify and describe severe
local storms. Observations by spotters helps the National Weather
Service issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe
thunderstorms, and flash floods and thus save lives.
The Community Collaborative, CoCoRaHS, is a volunteer network of
backyard weather observers. People of all ages measure and map
precipitation (rain, hail and snow) in communities across the United
States. The data is used by a wide range of agencies and programs.
CoCoRaHS came about as a result of a devastating flash flood that hit
Fort Collins, Colo., in July, 1997. A local severe thunderstorm dumped
over a foot of rain in several hours on some parts of the city, while
other portions of the city had only modest rainfall.
The ensuing flood caught many by surprise and caused $200 million in
damages. CoCoRaHS was born in 1998 with the intent of doing a better
job of mapping and reporting intense storms. As more volunteers
participated, rain, hail, and snow maps were produced for every storm
showing fascinating local patterns that were of great interest to
scientists and the public.
North Carolina became the 21st state to establish the CoCoRaHS program
in 2007, and by 2010, the CoCoRaHS network had reached all 50 states
with 8,000 to 10,000 observations being reported each day. Through
CoCoRaHS, thousands of volunteers, young and old, document the size,
intensity, duration and patterns of rain, hail and snow by taking
simple measurements in their own backyards.
Volunteers can obtain an official rain gauge through the CoCoRaHS
for about $25 plus shipping. Besides the need for an official four-
inch plastic rain gauge, volunteers are required to take a simple
training module online and use the CoCoRaHS website to submit their
reports. Observations are immediately available on maps and reports for
the public to view.
The process takes only five minutes a day, but the impact to the
community is tenfold. By providing high quality, accurate measurements,
the observers are able to supplement existing networks and provide
useful results to scientists, resource managers, decision-makers, and
“North Carolina has the most complex climate in the eastern U.S.,” said
Ryan Boyles, state climatologist and director of the State Climate
Office, based at North Carolina State University. “Data gathered from
CoCoRaHS volunteers can be very important in better understanding our
“An additional benefit of the program to the National Weather Service
is the ability to receive timely reports of significant weather (hail,
intense rainfall, localized flooding) from CoCoRaHS observers that can
assist forecasters in issuing and verifying warnings for severe
thunderstorms,” says meteorologist Glenn.
If you can’t attend the meeting in Rodanthe, go to the CoCoRaHS website
and click on the “Join CoCoRaHS” emblem on the upper right side of the
main website. After registering, take the simple online training, order
your rain gauge, and start reporting!
The Rodanthe training session is sponsored by the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo
Civic Association, which will be providing a light supper. Please
register for the training and dinner by e-mailing [email protected]
or calling (252) 987-1303.