National Weather Service is seeking volunteer weather observers

NWS is looking for volunteers to track rain, snow and hail

By on March 26, 2017 for the Outer Banks Voice

The National Weather Service is seeking volunteer weather observers, especially on the Outer Banks, to measure rain, snow and hail through the CoCoRaHS Program.

CoCoRaHs, which stands for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation in their local communities.

The volunteer program uses low-cost measurement tools, training and education, along with an interactive website, to provide high-quality data for natural resource, education and research applications.

In Dare County there are only four active volunteers, and most are from Nags Head north, according to David Glenn, CoCoRaHS state co-coordinator and meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City.

“We need new observers across the Outer Banks, but especially south of Nags Head to help fill in the precipitation monitoring gaps,” Glenn said in a recent email to the Outer Banks Voice. “There are several local/regional/national users of the CoCoRaHS data, with perhaps the most interesting local user being the Shellfish Sanitation and Water Quality division within the NC Department of Environmental Quality.”

CoCoRaHS was established in North Carolina in 2007 to obtain a better understanding of local weather and climate patterns by taking daily weather observations using a simple, low-cost rain gauge.

The only requirements to join are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can affect and impact our lives.

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.

The process takes only five minutes a day, but the impact to the community is immeasurable. 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,” Heather Dinon Aldridge, assistant state climatologist and interim associate director of the State Climate Office, based at North Carolina State University, said in a press release. “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,” Glenn said.

“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,” he added.

To learn more, visit the NWS Newport/Morehead City office’s CoCoRaHS website.