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Wanted: Volunteer Weather Observers


David Glenn, NC CoCoRaHS State Coordinator, National Weather Service, 252-223-5737 ext. 7,

Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012

Are you a citizen scientist that just loves weather data — rainfall in average storms and hurricanes or snowfall, be it minor or major? If so, then a new volunteer weather-observing program needs your help! The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS, is looking for new volunteers across North Carolina. Many of North Carolina Sea Grant's partners — including NOAA's National Weather Service and the State Climate Office of North Carolina — will use the data to build better weather and climate models.

"We are in need of new observers across the entire state and would like to emphasize rural locations and locations along the coast, especially on barrier islands," notes David Glenn, state coordinator for CoCoRaHS and a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City.

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 that will supplement existing observations.

Sea Grant has increased its weather and climate science and outreach in recent years. "Accurate and timely weather predictions are essential for coastal residents. Having precipitation data from many specific sites allows weather forecasters and climate modelers to fine-tune their computer-generated forecasts and keep everyone safer and more knowledgeable," says Jack Thigpen, Sea Grant extension director.

Ryan Boyles, state climatologist based at NC State University, agrees. "North Carolina has the most complex climate in the eastern U.S.," Boyles explains." Data gathered from CoCoRaHS volunteers are very important in better understanding local weather and climate patterns."

Volunteers may obtain an official rain gauge through the CoCoRaHS website ( for about $27 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, but the impact to the community is tenfold: By providing high quality, accurate measurements, the observers are able to supplement existing networks and provide useful results to scientists, resource managers, decision makers and other users.

"An additional benefit of the program to the National Weather Service is the ability to receive timely reports of significant weather (hail, intense rainfall, localized flooding) from CoCoRaHS observers that can assist forecasters in issuing and verifying warnings for severe thunderstorms," Glenn says.

For more information, contact Glenn at or 252-223-5737 ext. 7.

You may also find of interest this CoCoRaHS short video ( To view, copy the link and paste it into your browser.


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