Volunteer Weather Observers Wanted
If you're already checking your rain gauge every day, or if it's something you'd like to do, the National Weather Service wants to talk.
It's a program called Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS – pronounced "co-co-raws" – for short).
Volunteers will need a four inch rain gauge and Internet access to watch a few training videos and then start reporting daily observations.
Nebraska had a similar program, but is joining CoCoRaHS, which has become a national network of rain and snowfall information.
"It has basically merged with CoCoRaHS, so there are several dozen observers in Nebraska, but the CoCoRaHS motto is ‘Every Drop Counts,' and we need more observers to help fill in the gaps," says Jeff Halblaub, meteorologist at NWS Hastings.
CoCoRaHS was started in Colorado after flash flooding in 1997. NWS, emergency managers, and river forecasters use the data to issue what they say can be life-saving watches and warnings.
"Most observers look at their rain gauge around 7 a.m. and either measure the amount of rainfall or snowfall that's caught in the gauge," says Halblaub. He says snowfall is then melted down so the liquid equivalent can be found.
CoCoRaHS volunteers can join anytime, but weather groups are pushing for sign-ups ahead of severe weather season.