RALEIGH – The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, or CoCoRaHS, is looking for new volunteers across the Lake Norman area.

Through CoCoRaHS, thousands of volunteers around the country document the size, intensity, duration and patterns of rain, hail, and snow online by taking measurements in their backyards.

Once collected, the group’s data is used by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, emergency responders, farmers, airports and even The Weather Channel to track regional weather patterns.

“North Carolina has one of the most complex climates in the U.S.,” Ryan Boyles, director of the State Climate Office, said. “Data gathered from CoCoRaHS volunteers is very important in better understanding local weather and climate patterns.”

CoCoRaHS, the brainchild of Climatologist Nolan Doesken, came about as the result of an unexpected flash flood in Ft. Collins, Colo. in July 1997. 

A severe thunderstorm quickly dumped over a foot of rain in certain areas of Ft. Collins, while others experienced only modest rainfall. The flood caused more than $200 million in damages.

Doesken created CoCoRaHS in 1998 with the intent of doing a better job mapping and reporting intense storms.

“An additional benefit of the program to the National Weather Service,” David Glenn, CoCoRaHS State Coordinator, said, “is the ability to receive timely reports of significant weather that can assist forecasters in issuing and verifying warnings for severe thunderstorms.” 

Recently, CoCoRaHS’s drought reporting has also been included in the National Integrated Drought Information System.

North Carolina became the twenty-first state to establish the CoCoRaHS program in 2007. By 2010, the network reached all 50 states with roughly 9,000 observations reported online each day.

“We are in need of new observers across the entire state, and we would like to emphasize rural locations,” Glenn said. 

If you want to help, visit the CoCoRaHS website at www.cocorahs.org and click the “Join CoCoRaHS” emblem on the upper right side. After registering, read the online training information, order a four-inch rain gauge and start reporting.