March 19, 2013
Citizen science program needs your help
observing the weather…WITH VIDEO
you ever wonder how much rainfall you received from a recent
thunderstorm? How about snowfall during a winter storm? If so, a new
volunteer weather observing program needs your help.
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS, is
looking for new volunteers across 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 over some parts of the city, while other portions 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.
drought reporting has also become an important observation within the
CoCoRaHS program across the nation. In fact, drought observations from
CoCoRaHS are now being included in the National Integrated Drought
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
Volunteers may obtain an official rain gauge through the CoCoRaHS website (http://www.cocorahs.org
) 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.
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 one of the most complex
climates in the 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 are very
important in better understanding local weather and climate patterns.”
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, take the simple online training,
order your 4-inch rain gauge, and start reporting.
“We are in need of new observers across the entire state and we would like to emphasize rural locations,” added Glenn.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Click here to view a video about CoCoRaHS.
North Carolina CoCoRaHS can also be reached on Facebook and through Twitter @NC_CoCoRaHS .