Meterologists seeking helpers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 16, 2010

NATCHEZ — If your idea of March Madness involves collecting accurate rainfall data, the Mississippi branch of the National Weather Service would love your help.

During the month of March, the NWS is trying to get as many new volunteer members to join the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

“The whole purpose of it is to help the weather service fill in gaps in our rainfall network throughout the area, and it helps us to get quality rainfall reports for flash flooding as well as our river flooding operations,” NWS Senior Hydrologist Marty Pope said.

The network would ideally have at least three rainfall observers in every county or parish, and Pope said Adams County has five, Franklin County and Catahoula Parish have one, but Wilkinson and Jefferson counties and Concordia and Tensas parishes have none.

The rainfall network was originally started in 1997 at Colorado State University.

“They had a serious flash flood there, and they realized they were seriously lacking in rainfall reports,” Pope said. “After the program started, it went national.”

Volunteers use a standard four-inch rain gauge — they can purchase one from the network for $25 — and every morning between the hours of 7 and 9 they report the amount of rainfall through the network Web site.

Training is available online, and Pope said if the NWS has a person available in the area, they will help the volunteer set up. Access to the Internet is necessary because reports are entered online.

“We are looking for people who have a general interest in weather,” he said. “Besides recording rainfall reports, they would give us hail reports, and even if they want to give special weather reports to us they can enter that in.”

To join the network, visit www.cocorahs.org and select “Join CoCoRaHS” from the menu on the left side of the Web page.

Anyone with questions can also contact Pope at 601-936-2189.