National Weather Service looking for new volunteers for CoCoRaHS March Madness

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NEWPORT, N.C. (WNCT) – March Madness gets underway on the hardwood very soon, but for meteorologists at the National Weather Service, the madness has already begun.

No, we’re not talking about sinking 3-pointers. A network of new rain gauges is the name of this game. The National Weather Service is looking for new observers for their nationwide Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow, or CoCoRaHS, network. David Glenn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morehead City, heads up the effort here in North Carolina.

“Whether they’re young students in middle school or high school or folks that are retired, they get the low cost rain gauge and observe precipitation in their own backyards,” says Glenn.

An official CoCoRaHS rain gauge will run you thirty bucks, but it’s an investment that will help not only the National Weather Service but several state and local agencies. Volunteers put up a rain gauge in their backyard then record and send in their reports every day either on their computer or through the CoCoRaHS mobile app. Here in the East, the network is pretty good in the bigger towns and cities. But, there are plenty of holes that need to be filled in.

“Hyde County, Tyrrell County, Washington County some of those areas,” notes Glenn. “And even along the Outer Banks we have just a few observers. So those areas where we can fill in the gaps and get more people in those locations would be really beneficial.”

Greene, Jones, and Bertie counties are also especially in need of volunteers to help fill in the network. The daily measurements give the National Weather Service a better idea of what’s happening across the East. But they’re not the only ones who use the information. Emergency managers and the state division of environmental quality are just a few who benefit. Jim Hix of Winterville has been collecting this valuable data from his backyard for the past eight years.

“I’ve always had an interest in weather and so knowing that those readings, even though there are thousands of them throughout the country it’s nice to know that that’s there,” says Hix.

Like the Big Dance, there is some hardware involved for the state with the most new recruits during March. The CoCoRaHS Cup has been firmly planted in North Carolina for four of the past five years.

“This would be really neat to keep it in the state in North Carolina another year longer,” says Glenn. “And North Carolina is a big basketball state so tying this in with sports I think is really crucial to kick people’s interest off.”

As of Monday, March 7, North Carolina is in the lead with Virginia not too far behind.

Click here for updated CoCoRaHS March Madness standings.

If you’d like to join the CoCoRaHS network or get more information, click here.

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