Weather network seeks volunteers in North Carolina

From staff reportsMarch 24, 2014 

— A national network is looking for volunteers in North Carolina to measure rain and snowfall in their backyards to help the National Weather Service and others gauge the impact of storms.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network was created in 1998, a year after a devastating flash flood hit Fort Collins, Colo. A severe thunderstorm poured more than a foot of rain in one part of the city while other areas received only modest rainfall. The ensuing flood caught many by surprise and caused $200 million in damage.

The network, which goes by the ungainly acronym CoCoRaHS, seeks to prevent those kinds of surprises by providing more widespread measurements of precipitation.

Volunteers must obtain an official 4-inch plastic rain gauge, get some online training and use the CoCoRaHS website to submit their reports. The measurement process takes about five minutes a day, and observations are immediately available to the public through online maps and reports.

“We are in need of new observers across the entire state,” said David Glenn, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Newport who coordinates CoCoRaHS in North Carolina. “We would like to emphasize rural locations, areas of higher terrain, and areas near the coast, especially on barrier islands.”

The rain gauge used by volunteers costs about $28 plus shipping. For more information, go to www.cocorahs.org.

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