TAMPA, Fla. — It may be the dry season, but the National Weather Service is already looking ahead to the wet season this summer and they are asking for your help as part of their CoCoRaHS March Madness campaign.
CoCoRaHS stands for Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow network. The NWS is making a push to recruit new volunteers that will be willing to collect daily rainfall measurements at their homes.
“It’s citizen science at its finest,” said NWS Tampa Meteorologist Austen Flannery. “It’s by the people, for the people mind of approach for understanding what is going on weatherwise across our area.”
CoCoRaHS was started after a devasting flash flood in Fort Collins, Colorado in July of 1997. This local program, is now adopted nationwide and internationally, to better with better understand rainfall variability and reporting intense storms. Flannery says the most helpful part of CoCoRaHS in Southwest Florida is depicting our afternoon sea breeze showers.
“You think about the afternoon summertime thunderstorms,” said Flannery. “It might rain at your house. You might get 2,3 inches of rain and you go a couple blocks over and there was no rain. The rainfall on a day-to-day basis can be extremely variable.”
Flannery calls this data key. The more data they have the better information they can provide to issue watches and warnings.
“You are helping us to better understand, to suppliant information that we can’t ourselves necessarily collect for each individual home,” said Flannery. “So, the more the merrier. There is no such thing as too many observations. And the more we collect the better. The better picture we can paint.
In Florida this data has been collected since 2007. Data that has been collected from the start is now being used to better understand climate change.
“That data is actually now going into climate studies and our climate analysis and climate assessments to be able to understand how the climate is changing across our area,” said Flannery. “How rainfall patterns have changed in the last 15 years across the state.”
So how can you get involved? It is as simple as signing up and connecting your rain gauge to the network. You can sign up at CoCoRaHS.org. If you don’t have a rain gauge, they can be purchased for as low as 30$. It is then asked you submit that data to NWS daily either online or through an app.