NEWPORT — A volunteer weather observing program is seeking more members in Carteret County, especially in rural areas and near the water.

The National Weather Service weather forecasting office in Newport issued a release March 13 announcing the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network is looking for new volunteers across North Carolina. The grassroots effort is part of a growing, national network of home-based and amateur weather spotters with a goal of providing a high-density precipitation network across the country.

CoCoRaHS State co-coordinator and NWS Newport office meteorologist David Glenn said as of Tuesday, there are 36 active CoCoRaHS participants in Carteret County. Most of the participants are centered in the areas with the highest populations: Newport, Morehead City and Beaufort, with a few along Bogue Banks.

“We’d love more volunteers in rural locations,” Mr. Glenn said, “along Highway 70 in Down East Carteret (County), and any location adjacent to water…These reports are vital to understanding local weather patterns in eastern North Carolina.”

Anyone interested in becoming a CoCoRaHS observer may go to the website cocorahs.org and click on the “Join CoCoRaHS” emblem on the upper right side of the main website.  After registering, prospective volunteers may take the online training, order a 4-inch rain gauge and start reporting.

North Carolina CoCoRaHS can also be reached on Facebook at facebook.com/CoCoRaHSNC/ and through Twitter at twitter.com/NC_CoCoRaHS.

Local, state and federal agencies use CoCoRaHS data. Mr. Glenn said the weather service uses it daily to help determine precipitation amounts for various locations.

“Through the CoCoRaHS website volunteers can also report when significant weather impacts their location, such as hail, heavy rain leading to flooding or heavy snowfall,” he said. “These reports are invaluable in assisting with public safety. A volunteer may provide a real-time report of quarter-sized hail, or water covering a roadway, that could lead to the issuance of a Severe Thunderstorm Warning or Flash Flood Warning.”

Mr. Glenn said volunteers have an opportunity “to become part of history for any weather events that impacts the area.

“When Hurricane Florence impacted our state in 2018, the top rainfall reports came from CoCoRaHS observers,” he said.

Precipitation isn’t the only thing volunteers report on. CoCoRaHS state co-coordinator and applied climatologist at the State Climate Office of North Carolina Darrian Bertrand said they “also use CoCoRaHS Condition Monitoring reports every week to determine drought conditions across the state and give recommendations to the U.S. Drought Monitor authors.”

Mr. Glenn said, while most volunteers report when there’s rain or snow to observe, “reporting zero is just as important.”

“Long stretches without precipitation lead to drought,” he said, “and the CoCoRaHS website allows its volunteers to report on drought impacts, which feed directly into the National Integrated Drought Information System.”

 

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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