Casting Call for COCoRaHS Weather Observers
Take an Active Role in Monitoring Planet Earth
North Carolina State University and the National Weather Service are looking for volunteer weather observers across the state to collect precipitation data for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS). North Carolina weather buffs can now play an active role in meteorological reporting and research using inexpensive equipment in their backyard.
North Carolina will be the twenty first state to introduce the CoCoRaHS program, which was started in 1998 and is based at Colorado State University. This unique, non-profit network of volunteer weather observers measures and reports rain, hail and snow amounts to provide the maximum amount of data for education and research use.
"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 N.C. State. "Data gathered from CoCoRaHS volunteers can be very important in better understanding our climate."
According to Boyles, the state's average annual precipitation ranges from less than 40 inches to more than 90 inches in parts of western North Carolina. In some years, monitoring stations report less than 30 inches of precipitation, while in other years, stations report over 120 inches. "The statewide record for 24-hour rainfall total is 22.22 inches from July 15-16, 1916, in western North Carolina. That stood as the nationwide record for many decades."
Observations reported by CoCoRaHS volunteers will be used by a wide range of agencies and scientists, including National Weather Service and University of North Carolina scientists, to monitor and study rainfall patterns, drought, and the impacts to our surface water systems.
Darin Figurskey, the meteorologist-in-charge at National Weather Service's Raleigh Forecast Office stresses the potential value of observations from CoCoRaHS observers for local monitoring. "Summer thunderstorms can dump more than three inches of rain in some areas, while areas just a few miles away get little or no rainfall," said Figurskey.
CoCoRaHS volunteers must use a standard scientific rain gauge, available through the CoCoRaHS Web site for about $30, including shipping. Volunteers install the rain gauge on their property about five feet above the ground in a site with little or no obstruction from trees or other objects.
Volunteers also complete a short online training program available through the CoCoRaHS Web site so they know how to properly measure precipitation. They should be willing to enter precipitation data between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. daily through the CoCoRaHS Web site.
"This is a great activity for science teachers and their students, for the farmer who tracks precipitation, or for weather hobbyists who want to contribute to our knowledge of the environment," said Boyles. "This program will help meteorologists, researchers, the media and others see and study the variability of precipitation across North Carolina."
To learn more, visit the State Climate Office Web site at http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/ or the CoCoRaHS Web site at http://www.cocorahs.org. Once you register and begin to report, your rainfall observations will become part of the volunteer record, and will be plotted on maps of your county and state. You can view the maps and see how your observation fits in with your neighbors involved in CoCoRaHS across the country.