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Wanted: Weather watchers to collect precipitation data

Barry Dlouhy, a volunteer weather watcher, uses a

Barry Dlouhy, a volunteer weather watcher, uses a gauge to measure daily precipitation in the backyard of his Bay Shore home on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The National Weather Service’s Upton office is looking for a few good weather enthusiasts to fill in gaps when it comes to precipitation measurements on Long Island.

You can do this on a volunteer basis without even leaving your backyard, the weather service said Tuesday in a tweet.

If “you want to help us out,” check into joining the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network — CoCoRaHS for short.

That’s a primarily nationwide organization of thousands of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, who on a daily basis measure and map the amounts — even if it’s zero — of rain, snow or hail that fall in their own yards.

The organization’s slogan is “Because every drop counts!” And, of course, there are T-shirts.

Volunteers simply check gauges in their yards, and then use a mobile app to log in to and enter the amounts, which are available within minutes on the site and at the weather service’s Upton office.

The site, which is viewable by anyone, is used especially by the likes of climatologists, emergency managers, mosquito control professionals, farmers, gardeners and meteorologists looking to verify their forecasts, as well as hydrologists studying drought.

Such volunteer input can help validate radar data and fill in the gaps between official observing stations, the weather service said in its tweet.

And the more the merrier, since “precipitation can vary significantly across short distances,” the weather service said, citing epic rainfall on Long Island in August 2014, when the difference between amounts at Ronkonkoma’s Long Island MacArthur Airport and in Centereach, about 5 miles away, was 6.56 inches.

To learn more, go to the site, click “Join CoCoRaHS,” and read about the online training and required purchase of a rain gauge, which costs about $30.

In the maps section, you can also view reports submitted from various Long Island locations.


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