The National Weather Service is looking for volunteer weather watchers across the Piedmont counties of North Carolina.
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS, is looking for new volunteers across eastern 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.
CoCoRaHS came about as a result of a devastating flash flood that hit Fort Collins, Colo., in July 1997. A severe thunderstorm dumped more than a foot of rain in several hours, while other portions of the city received only modest rainfall. The ensuing flood caught many by surprise and caused $200 million in damages. By 2010, the network gathered 8,000 to 10,000 daily observation reports in all 50 states.
Volunteers may obtain an official rain gauge through the CoCoRaHS website, www.cocorahs.org, for about $25 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.
“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 University.