The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) gets volunteers from Florida to Alaska to every state in between to record precipitation and help professionals study and predict weather and climate. In fact, Florida leads the nation with 48 volunteers spread across the state.

Volunteers set up approved rain gauges and the record the amount of precipitation (rain, snow or hail) measured by the device. They then enter the measurements into CoCoRaHS’s website each day.

National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Zibura says that Florida “rainfall varies greatly in distance, especially in the summer.” He said there are often gaps in rural areas, so the organization is constantly looking for volunteers to help fill those gaps.

Professionals then take the data gathered by volunteers to forecast weather, issue flood warnings and predict water levels — all of which is vital to helping people prepare for storms and possible water damage to homes and businesses.

The collected data is also used in climate research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation (both sponsors of CoCoRaHS).

The group began in 1997 in Colorado when a flash flood killed five people and caused property damage that rose into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The flood and damage took meteorologists by surprise.

CoCoRaHS was started to give meteorologists more information to work with to refine forecasts.

Here in Tampa, we know that even reliable forecasts can result in widespread damage to homes.

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