'March Madness': A drive for more rainfall observers

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By Charles Roop
March 6, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - For Danny Brouillette, March Madness has nothing to do with basketball.

There's no Sweet 16, or a Final Four.

It's all about getting new rain observers.

Brouillette, the Co-Coordinator of Florida for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, is striving for Florida to be top dog this year for new rainfall observers.

The network, often called CoCoRaHS, has over 12,000 observers that keep a daily track of precipitation at their homes on a volunteer basis. They have observers in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. Brouillette says they have nearly 600 watchers in Florida, with over 100 in South Georgia alone.

And they want more.

The program started after a flash flood hit Fort Collins, Colo. in 1997 that killed 5 people. They discovered the need for more localized data than just what's at a nearby airport or official automated station. This program, developed a year after that flash flood, helps fill in the gaps by allowing volunteer observers to record rainfall amounts with a special rain gauge, and report them online daily.

Brouillette says they need more observers not only in the cities, but in the rural areas.

"Especially in the rural coastal counties like Franklin County, Wakulla County, Jefferson County," Brouillette said. "Areas down in the Crawfordville, Cross City, and also in rural South Georgia."

The heavy rainfall associated with a low that caused flooding in Louisiana and moved into our area in August 2016 is one system he wishes they had more data from.

"It would have been helpful to verify with Doppler radar," Brouillette said, adding that it would have gave some ground truth to the radar rainfall estimates.

If one has the desire to help out in the name of science, there are steps to join. There is a page on the CoCoRaHS website to sign up to be an observer, and to purchase a specific rain gauge. The rain gauge used for observing is calibrated correctly, and would keep measurements consistent. The price for the rain gauge is around $30.

As of March 6, Florida was leading the board with 24 new observers, with North Carolina a close second (21). Georgia is ranked 12th with three new observers at the time of this post.



 
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