Weather observers sought

Published 10:52 am Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weather watchers, you’re needed.

The National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va., is seeking people in Lawrence County and throughout southeastern Ohio to take part its new Community

Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow network (CoCoRaHS). This nationwide program asks volunteers to measure and map precipitation (rain, snow and hail) and then report this information to the weather service.

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“This program will greatly improve our precipitation monitoring capabilities across the area and will be beneficial when flooding is expected,” southeast Ohio coordinator Nick Webb said in an e-mail to The Tribune. Webb is a meteorologist with the Charleston NWS office. “I am particularly looking for folks in the rural parts of the county, but everyone is welcome to join. They can sign up online. They will be asked to give daily precipitation reports, usually around 7 a.m. They can also give event specific reports throughout the day (heavy rain shower, thunderstorms, hail, snow, etc.)”

Brian Astifan, Ohio state coordinator and meteorologist with the Cleveland NWS office, agreed.

“Precipitation can vary widely across Ohio. Summer storms can drop 4 inches of rain in one area, with locations just a few miles away remaining dry.

During the fall, if a dying tropical system passes through Ohio, the difference between 3 inches of rain and no rain can be just 20 miles. Even snow amounts can be quite different just across a single county. The addition of even just a couple of CoCoRaHS observers within a county can help to create more complete precipitation maps during any season,” he said.

The information will be entered online, so it is preferred that volunteers have Internet access. However those who do not have Internet access can also phone in their reports. Volunteers will need to purchase a 4- inch rain gauge.

The network originated with the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998 due in part to a devastating flood that occurred in the previous year. Since then, the network has expanded rapidly with over 6,500+ observers in 26 states.

Those who want to sign up to be a volunteer may do so online at