COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — When severe weather strikes, it’s all "hands on deck" at the National Weather Service. Meteorologists rely a lot on ground reports. It’s why they need more people to sign up to be a "weather observer."
Michael Detwiler has always had a passion for the weather and how data is collected. By day he works in the medical field, but he’s mostly known as the Cookeville Weather Guy.
“I wanted to do something in the Cookeville area because it is a struggle to forecast, because of the elevation difference," weather observer Michael Detwiler said.
Detwiler has all the advanced technology needed to track wind speeds, UV data and the amount of precipitation falling.
"We are helped out tremendously by our own weather observers and helping to verify what we think we know. They also tell us things we might not know yet," said Alyssa Clements, National Weather Service Nashville Meteorologist
Weather observers like Detwiler track rainfall totals with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, also known as CoCoRaHS (pronounced KO-ko-rozz).
"By joining CoCoRaHS, you get to build your own weather records. Also, your own weather station and keep track of what you’ve received," Clements said.
"Farmers want to know these totals. My neighbor around the corner wants to know for their plants, so the information is vital," Detwiler said.
There are close to 300 observers in the CoCoRaHs network, but there are several counties without any. Detwiler thinks if you love science and helping your community, then becoming a weather observer is the way to go.
"Once you get hit by the bug, if it’s observing rain or whatever, we’ll then maybe you will go attend a spotter class so that you can get educated on what’s going on with severe weather," Detwiler said.
Some of the counties without an observer includes Jackson, Clay, and Pickett counties.
Across our area, we've welcomed 60 new observers and added new ones to 5 counties who previously had none! We would love to fill out this map before the end of March so if you've ever considered keeping your own weather records and helping your local NWS office, now's your time. pic.twitter.com/sdPepYc1gl— NWS Nashville (@NWSNashville) March 14, 2023
To get in on the excitement of March Madness, there’s a friendly competition going around, to see which National Weather Service organization can get the most people to sign up with CoCoRaHS. Tracking the precipitation only takes a few minutes of your day.
Minnesota has won the last three years, but they're hoping to win in Tennessee.
Training to become an observer is all online, learn more here.