DANVILLE - Whether you're at your local coffee shop, or out pumping gas, weather is always a topic for discussion. Luckily, we have weather tailored right to our exact towns, making it easy for us to know what to look out for. However, without weather observers, this would not be possible as they are a crucial part to our forecasting and record keeping.
The National Weather Service, a federal agency responsible for issuing life saving weather watches and warnings, is responsible for keeping daily observations across the country. They do this by using automated weather stations, usually placed at airports to record daily weather conditions. However, this leaves a void for those areas that do not have automated weather stations. Thankfully, there is a network of volunteers called CoCoRaHS, or the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, who fill in this void of weather information. Volunteers have a rain/snow gauge and submit weather observations including precipitation reports daily.
One local observer sits right in Danville. Libby Hillhouse joined the network of weather spotters a few months ago after writing down observations in her journal for the past 25 years. "I go out, and I go down into the side yard where the setup is, take the equipment that needs to be measured, and I bring it inside."
According to Dr. Jason Shafer, the co-coordinator of Vermont CoCoRaHS, there are about 100 registered observers throughout the state. But despite that number of observers, there are still areas around the Northeast Kingdom where observations are not taken. These towns include, Burke, Kirby and Newark.
"All the information that we can get about how much rain fell, or how much snow fell in the different hills is really helpful for us to understand the science of what we are doing," said Shafer.