Do you ever wonder how much rainfall you received from a recent
thunderstorm? How about snowfall during a winter storm? If so, then a
new volunteer weather observing program needs your help!
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS,
is looking for new volunteers across Eastern North Carolina. The
grassroots effort is part of a growing national network of home-based
and amateur rain spotters with a goal of providing a high density
precipitation network that will supplement existing observations.
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 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 may obtain an official rain gauge through the CoCoRaHS
) for about $27 plus shipping.
Besides the need for an official 4-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
from CoCoRaHS volunteers are very important in better understanding
local weather and climate patterns.”
“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 David Glenn, CoCoRaHS state coordinator and
meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead
How does one become a CoCoRaHS observer?
Go to the CoCoRaHS website and click on the “Join CoCoRaHS” emblem on
the upper right side of the main website. After registering,
the simple online training, order your 4-inch rain gauge and start
“We are in need of new observers across the entire state. We would like
to emphasize rural locations and areas near the coast, especially on
barrier islands,” added Glenn.
To watch a short video on the CoCoRaHS program, go to http://youtu.be/M5-XXg9M30.