Local rain watchers can help weather and water management agencies monitor precipitation by participating in the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).

Local weather enthusiasts have an opportunity to help the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Tampa Bay office and other agencies keep track of local rainfall by joining the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).

The volunteer weather watchers track rainfall amounts on their property and submit the data via a secure online portal. It is a simple task, but it is one that supplements information provided by technology such as radar, which can give an incomplete picture of what is happening during routine rainfall or a major weather event, like a hurricane or tropical storm.

According to officials, there are 58 network monitors in Hillsborough County, and the hope is to recruit more, especially in less populated areas. Overall, there are more than 26,000 active observers nationwide who, depending on the region and season, also track amounts of snow and hail precipitation and provide reports in real time. Training is provided on how to install gauges, properly measure precipitation and transmit reports.

The observers provide valuable information to agencies like the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Tampa Bay Water, as they make decisions on things like building water utility infrastructure, according to Austen Flannery, meteorologist with NWS Tampa Bay and the regional CoCoRaHS coordinator.

“Consistent data collection from CoCoRaHS volunteers provides a more complete picture of rainfall trends across the area,” he wrote in an email.

“While we often think of Florida as a flat place, that is not a completely true statement. Water flows across the land to low points — of which some points allow water to drain directly into the Floridan aquifer and other groundwater supplies. In other spots, this water drains directly into nearby waterways. Where the rain is falling and how much is accumulating are crucial for understanding how this will impact communities. CoCoRaHS data provides additional detail that helps fill in the gaps to better map and understand how rainfall (or the lack thereof) is impacting local water resources.”

You can learn more by visiting https://cocorahs.org/, where you can also find links to buy an inexpensive rain gauge that is required to participate.

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Brad Stager
Avian-named publications have figured prominently in Brad Stager's career. Besides writing for the Osprey Observer, he started out writing sports articles for the Seahawk, a weekly newspaper serving the military community aboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. That position followed a career documenting life in the Fleet, from the Straits of Magellan to the North Arabian Sea, as a Navy Photographer's Mate. Since settling in the Tampa Bay area, Brad has produced a variety of written, visual and aural content for clients ranging from corporate broadcasters to small businesses.