March 15, 2017
Citizen Science Program needs your help observing the weather
you ever wonder how much rainfall you received from a recent
thunderstorm? How about snowfall during a winter storm? If so, an
important volunteer weather observing program needs your help! The
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, Colorado, 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. Recently, 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 Information
North Carolina became the twenty-first state to establish the CoCoRaHS
program in 2007, and by 2010, the CoCoRaHS network had reached all 50
states with nearly ten thousand 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 website (http://www.cocorahs.org)
for about $30 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 data to scientists, resource managers, decision
makers and other users.
"Monitoring weather and climate conditions in North Carolina is no easy
feat," said Heather Dinon Aldridge, assistant state climatologist and
interim associate director of the State Climate Office, based at North
Carolina State University. "CoCoRaHS volunteers help by painting a
better picture of precipitation patterns across North Carolina, filling
in data gaps where there are no nearby stations."
“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 Co-coordinator and
meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead
How does one become a CoCoRaHS observer? Go to the CoCoRaHS website
above 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. We would like
to emphasize rural locations, areas of higher terrain, and areas near
the coast,” added Glenn.
North Carolina CoCoRaHS can also be reached on Facebook and