National Weather Service weather observers wanted

You can never have enough eyes on the sky. Too few means an increased chance of a nasty weather situation not being fully understood. That’s why the National Weather Service has put out a call for additional volunteer weather observers in North Dakota.

A community-based network of volunteers provides valuable assistance to the NWS for measuring precipitation, reporting hail and wind damage and other important observations. Although the Weather Service constantly monitors all weather situations, reporting equipment does not provide 100 percent information in all instances. That is why volunteer observers can play a crucial role in helping the Weather Service compile important weather information.

“Observer information will fill a piece of the puzzle that affects many in North Dakota,” said Tony Merriman, lead meteorologist with the Weather Service in Bismarck. “Information helps hydrologists make better river forecasts, assists researchers with assessing drought intensity and helps the National Weather Service with severe weather warnings.”

Weather volunteers become part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, known as CoCoRahs. According to the Weather Service, CoCoRahs uses measurement tools, stresses training and education, and utilizes an inter-active website with a goal of providing the highest quality precipitation data for natural resource, education and research applications.

“Whether you are reporting from your home, school, ranch, farm or business; your daily precipitation data will keep you connected with the weather around you,” said Merriman. “Anybody can join.”

Those who are interested in becoming a CoCoRahs volunteer observer are asked to contact Merriman at Tony.Merriman@noaa.gov. or phone 250-4452.

Severe Weather Awareness Week

The National Weather Service has announced that North Dakota Severe Weather Awareness Week is set for April 29 through May 3. A tornado drill, a test, will be conducted statewide at approximately 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, May 1 in conjunction with Awareness Week. The purpose is to heighten awareness prior to the arrival of summer’s severe weather season.

At this time the NWS intends to change the wording for severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warning and severe weather statements in 2013. Thirty-seven National Weather Service offices in the central United States, including North Dakota, will be affected.

Within warning messages will be new terminology, Impact Based Warnings, for the purpose of better communicating the degree of threat from a thunderstorm or tornado. According to the Weather Service, the wording will be used to “beef up” for “bigger events” to better convey the risk and threat of severe weather systems.