NOAA seeks weather volunteers

  • Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Have you ever wondered how much rain falls in your backyard? If so, then consider joining the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network, also known as CoCoRaHS, and help contribute a piece to the daily weather puzzle.

CoCoRaHS is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow) in their local communities.

The program started in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1998 and now exists in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2008, South Carolina became the 29th state to join the CoCoRaHS network, and in that same year, South Carolina won the national award for the most new volunteers.

Each morning, hundreds of volunteers across the state head out to check their rain gauges and enter their information on an interactive web site, www.CoCoRaHS.org. In all, more than 10,000 volunteers participate nationwide each day.

The month of March is the perfect time to join the program. CoCoRaHS March Madness is a friendly recruiting contest between all 50s states to see who can recruit the most new volunteers during the 31 days of March. The winning state receives the “CoCoRaHS Cup” to keep and exhibit for the year.

The process takes only five minutes per day, but the impact to the community is tremendous. By providing high quality, accurate measurements, observers are able to provide important data to the National Weather Service, climatologists, civil engineers, farmers and other decision makers. Special reports on hail, heavy precipitation, and other weather events are also relayed to the National Weather Service and used to monitor flooding potential, severe thunderstorms, winter storms, and other significant weather events.

To join this fun, educational and community-based network, go to www.CoCoRaHS.org. From this site, new volunteers can obtain an official 4” rain gauge for roughly $30. In addition, CoCoRaHS volunteers may attend a training class or take simple online training which is also available through the CoCoRaHS web site.

Once users are registered and begin to report, their rainfall observations will be plotted on national and state maps. Furthermore, it’s exciting to see how observations can vary across a small area.

For additional information about CoCoRaHS March Madness, please visit www.CoCoRaHS.org or contact your CoCoRaHS Regional Coordinator, Julie Packett or Emily Timte, at 843-744-0303.

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