March Madness is Back… for Rainfall?!

Have you ever wondered how much rain or snow fell in your backyard? If so, then you could be a great addition to a growing national network of amateur weather observers called CoCoRaHS.

What is CoCoRaHS?

CoCoRaHS — or the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network — is a network of volunteers who observe and report precipitation measurements each day. North Carolina joined the CoCoRaHS effort in 2007 with the intent of doing a better job of mapping and recording intense storms.

Thousands of CoCoRaHS volunteers, young and old, document the size, intensity, duration, and patterns of precipitation by taking measurements of rain, hail, and snow in their own backyards. Observations are immediately available on maps and reports for the public to view. Here is a map of North Carolina CoCoRaHS reports from the recent snow event on February 11-13, 2014:

Daily reports of new snow depth (in inches) for the 24-hour period ending ~7:00am on February 13, 2014.

Who uses CoCoRaHS data?

CoCoRaHS volunteers help paint a better picture of precipitation patterns across our wonderful state of North Carolina. In fact, observations from CoCoRaHS volunteers supplement data from existing weather station networks and fill in gaps where there are no nearby stations (see below for an example). But, who uses this data? Scientists, resource managers, decision makers, and weather enthusiasts are among those who find these data valuable! For example, timely reports of significant weather from CoCoRaHS observers assist National Weather Service forecasters in issuing and verifying warnings for severe thunderstorms.

Precipitation observing stations in North Carolina, including CoCoRaHS observers (in light gray).

How can I participate?

Every year, a friendly recruiting contest called CoCoRaHS March Madness takes place between all 50 states to see who can recruit the most new volunteers during the days of March. North Carolina won the contest in 2011 and 2012, taking home the CoCoRaHS Cup! How can you help us take back the cup again this year? Become a CoCoRaHS observer!

Beginning Saturday, March 1, navigate to the CoCoRaHS website and click on the yellow “Join CoCoRaHS” emblem on the upper right side of the main website. We’ll also be at the Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh on March 6th for StormFest and would be happy to sign you up there! After registering, take the simple online training, order your 4-inch rain gauge and start reporting! The process only takes about five minutes a day, but the impact to the community is tenfold.

Be sure to check the CoCoRaHS March Madness weekly standings to see how North Carolina is doing this year!

CoCoRaHS March Madness 2014