CoCoRaHS: Volunteers Tracking the Weather

On Saturday, February 20, several HMNers were treated to a Zoom introduction to the CoCoRaHS organization by the Augusta/Rockingham coordinator, Tommy Le Beau. Despite a slight snag at the beginning (this was Elaine’s first time as Zoom host) it was an enjoyable presentation. Karen Milne, Peggy Plass, and John Bauman Zoomed in. Jean Stephens had internet issues and so wasn’t able to stay.

Tommy is passionate about the weather and it certainly showed. He says about himself: “I have been interested in meteorology since I was 11. In 2015 I volunteered with CoCoRaHS. Then, in 2016 I joined Skywarn as a weather spotter and the American Meteorological Society in 2018. In 2019 I became the CoCoRaHS County Coordinator for Augusta County.”

CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow Network) is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail, and snow) in their local communities. Their work is vitally important, especially considering the impacts of climate change. Volunteers across the country take and report daily measurements, using the 4-inch, high capacity gauge available through the CoCoRaHS website.

A dense network of volunteers is needed, and that is why Tommy came to us. Rockingham County only has a few volunteers, so any HMNers who want to join would be welcome! This is an approved citizen science project, and the training (including the hour Zoom introduction, Meeting # 83694296549, Password 620160) counts as continuing education. There are also webinars available through CoCoRaHS.

The data collected by volunteers is used by numerous agencies, including the National Weather Service, USDA, NOAA, farmers, and planners. Tommy pointed out that reporting zeros can be extremely important. Data collection only takes a few minutes a day and is preferably done in the morning. A commitment of at least one season is ideal.

Links that Tommy shared:
Training Slide Shows 

Observer Application Chooser

Uses of CoCoRaHS Data



YouTube Videos

Regular Training 

Snow Training 

For questions or more information, email Tommy

by Elaine Smith