Archived Story

Weather service looks for volunteers

Published 12:03am Monday, March 17, 2014

NATCHEZ — When it comes to what falls from the sky, the National Weather Service is looking for people on the ground to tell them more.

The NWS’ Jackson office is seeking volunteer daily rainfall observers to sign up for CoCoRaHS — the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network, a grassroots, volunteer group of citizen weather enthusiasts who measure and report daily precipitation.

“This network helps us fill in the gaps between the automated rain gauges, which are very few across the area,” NWS hydrologist Marty Pope said. “This is information that goes into our river forecasting models.”

CoCoRaHS started in 1997 after floods swept through Fort Collins, Colo., but has since spread to all 50 states and Canada.

“They realized after those floods that we need more rain gauging across the nation, especially if you have an area that has a lot of flash flooding,” Pope said.

Members in the network need a 4-inch rain gauge and Internet access.

“You really need the 4-inch gauge, because the little garden rain gauges do not catch rain like you need,” Pope said. “If you don’t have one, you can actually purchase one through the site.”

CoCoRaHS members read the rain gauge and report the amount of precipitation at the same time each day, preferably around 7 a.m., said Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens, one of Adams County’s CoCoRaHS members.

“Professionally, I go to the site a lot to see what kind of rain we have gotten in the area, because we can get a massive rain in the Sibley area and we don’t get a drop in the city,” he said. “It is a very easy process, and it is a very valuable tool in the emergency management toolbox.

“All you have to do is — sometime during the day — log into the website and make a quick report. If there is no rain, you can wait until the next rain and zero out all your zero rain days.”

Adams County has four other CoCoRaHS members, but Pope said the more who sign up, the better.

Areas in the Miss-Lou that have no representation in the network include Catahoula Parish and Claiborne and Jefferson counties.

To sign up for CoCoRaHS, visit cocorahs.org.

For more information, contact the NWS at 601-936-2189.