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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When we see heavy rain across the area, we typically show rainfall totals from area airports. Often, we’ll have viewers call in and let us know that they saw either more or less rain at their house. If that’s you, the National Service has the perfect opportunity for you.

It’s a new program, with a funny name – “CoCoRaHs.” It stands for the “Community, Collaborative, Rain, Hail and snow Network.” What it really is is simply a way to increase the amount of rainfall the weather community has to look at. As it is right now, meteorologists are often limited to looking at automated airport stations when it comes to weather data.

“The problem is our automated reporting systems are very sparse,” says Josh Weiss of the National Weather Service Wilmington office. “We have 14 counties in our area of responsibility and maybe 20 to 25 automated that report their information to us. The chances of getting the heaviest rain or severe wind at any of those given automated systems is very small.”

Here in Southeastern North Carolina, we frequently see very localized heavy rainfall events. With this limited number of stations, it can be very easy for rain to fall through the cracks.

“Rainfall can vary extremely just from very short distances,” says Weiss. “In fact, I’ve seen times when the ASOS over here at the airport, which is less than a mile from here, has maybe half an inch to and inch more of rain that we do over here at the office.”

So how do you get involved in the CoCoRaHs program? All you need to do is attend a brief, free training session provided by the National Weather Service. After that, you’re certified to collect rainfall, and are free to install a rain gauge in an open area away from any structures in your yard. From there, simply log on to the CoCoRaHs website whenever you receive rain, hail, or snow – and input the data.

As Josh says, it’s really that easy, “It’s for anybody who’s interested in the weather. It’s very easy to learn how measure rainfall in your rain gauge, and all your need is an internet connection to report it to us.”

Here’s a list of the meetings across the area this month:
– March 3 Pender County EOC, 605 East Fremont St., Burgaw, NC 7p – 9p
– March 10 Brunswick County EOC, 3325 Old Ocean Hwy., Building C, Bolivia, NC 7p – 9p
– March 14 New Hanover County EOC, 230 Government Center Dr, Suite 115, Wilmington, NC 7p – 9p
– March 21 Horry County EOC, M.L. Brown Jr. Public Safety Building, 2560 Main Street, Conway, SC 7p – 9p
– March 25 Tara Theater at The Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort, 14276 Ocean Hwy Pawley’s Island, SC 9a – 12p

Those who attend the training sessions will also become certified severe weather spotters in the SkyWarn Program: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/ilm/Misc/CoCoRahsNC.html


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