CoCoRaHS Header
In This Issue
Quick Facts
March Madness Results
Wild About CoCoRaHS!
Status of Quality Control Efforts
March Rains
March CoCoRaHS Totals
Current State of the Drought
Tampa Tornado Family
March 31st Severe Weather Event
Quick Facts
# of registered FL

# of active FL observers

# of reports submitted by FL observers during

Date with the greatest # of FL reports submitted
during 3/11 (432 reports)

Highest reported daily rainfall from FL CoCoRaHS observers during 3/11 (FL-LK-12 on 3/31/11)

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NewsletterApril 2011
Thank you!!

If you've been an observer in the state for longer than a month, then you've heard my mantra- "Please report your zeros!"- on a monthly basis. As I was compiling the quick facts for this newsletter, I noticed that every day in March had over 375 observations... even on days when no rain fell anywhere in the state. I do believe I may have gotten out of my chair and did a little dance around my office.

March Madness Results

In a weird and wacky finish (similar to the craziness that's happened in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament), North Carolina pulled out an upset win in the 'total observers' category- beating out Indiana by one observer. Indiana did win the 'per capita' category for the 2011 contest. While Florida didn't take home any virtual trophies this year, I am happy that new observers signed up in some of the areas that were under-represented. Besides, there's always next year!

Wildphoto of Doppler the goose About CoCoRaHS!

If you had purchased a copy of the CoCoRaHS 2011 Calendar, you know that the pictures for March highlighted a few animal encounters. Bears, elk, frogs and birds have all had their pictures taken 'observing' the weather. I believe I've mentioned in the past a hawk- named Millibar- that likes to hang out on the top of my rain gauge, hunting mice in the brush nearby. Well, the last fewdays, my rain gauge at work as attracted a new feathered friend. Doppler, as I'm calling her, has been a good security goose, keeping people from messing with her nest and my rain gauge. The only problem is- she won't let me near my gauge in the morning. So, I have to wait until she goes on break and rush out there to check my totals.

Status of Quality Conrol Efforts

So far, the additional efforts to quality control the CoCoRaHS data have gone over extremely well. Observers who have been contacted because their entries had been flagged have been gracious in their responses to my emails. We've caught some funny mistakes over the last few weeks... and not just in Florida. We do have some bugs to work out;:values from localized thunderstorm events are frequently flagged as being suspect. I have a feeling before we move into the summer, this issue will have to be addressed- otherwise a bunch of observations would get flagged on a daily basis!  


If you receive an email from me with the subject line 'Question About Your Recent CoCoRaHS Observation', please take a moment to answer me back. And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

March Rains

Rainfall totals for March varied across the state. Below normal totals were observed in the north and south, while above normal totals were observed in central areas (Table 1). Tallahassee recorded a total more than three inches below normal. The monthly total at Tampa (9.79 in) was nearly seven inches above normal. At Tampa, 8.19 inches fell during the last four days of the month. Several daily records were set (Table2). A total of 3.12 inches on the 31st at St. Petersburg broke a daily record in existence since 1931. Figure 1 graphically depicts the departure from normal of March rainfall totals across the state.

Table 1
Table 1: March precipitation totals and departures from normal (inches) for selected cities.
Table 2
Table 2: Daily rainfall records (inches) tied or broken during March. (Compiled from NOAA, NWS).
Figure 1
Figure 1: A graphical depiction of the monthly rainfall departure from normal (inches) for March is given in the figure below (courtesy of NOAA, NWS).
March CoCoRaHS Totals

Here are the CoCoRaHS rainfall totals for March from some select CoCoRaHS stations across the state.


Current State of the Drought

Although rainfall across the northern part of the state was below normal, there was little change to the drought conditions in the Panhandle, Big Bend, North Central Florida and the First Coast. The rains toward the end of the March helped ease drought conditions along the west coast; from Pasco County to Sarasota County and portions of Polk, Lake and Sumter counties. However, the rains did nothing to alleviate the parched southern part of the state. Extreme drought conditions spread further inland from the coast. The water level at Lake Okeechobee has continued to fall since July 2010 and has now reached the 'Water Shortage Management' threshold, meaning more strict water restrictions will soon impact areas that are dependent on the lake.


The National Drought Monitor is updated weekly, so you can always check the most recent conditions here: National Drought Monitor.

FL Drought Monitor 

Tampa Tornado Family

On April 4, 1966, a deadly tornado family affected the central part of the state, leaving a path of destruction that stretched from Tampa Bay to Brevard County (roughly 135 miles). The two tornadoes spawned from a single thunderstorm and originated as waterspouts that moved onshore from the Gulf of Mexico. The first tornado was the strongest of the two tornadoes and was one of only 2 F4s to ever be reported in the state. The first tornado began near the Largo/Clearwater area around 8:00 A.M. and made its way through Tampa, Lakeland, St. Cloud, Gibsonia, Galloway, Auburndale, and Haines City before it lifted around Merritt Island. The second tornado (F2 or F3) paralleled the first storm and caused damage to some of the previously mentioned towns, along with Winter Haven, Rockledge and Cocoa Beach. Eleven people lost their lives, while more than 500 people were injured. Damage estimates were between $5 and $50 million.  

March 31st Severe Weather Event

The month of March did not "go out like a lamb", as the old rhyme says. The last few days of March brought heavy rainfall to central portions of the state, and some severe weather as well. Here are some stories and pictures from our observers...


"No real damage here at my place but, interestingly, during the worst part of the downpour, our mail lady delivered mail to my mailbox. Neither rain, nor snow..." - Mike (FL-PN-1)


"I went out on the March 30th after I heard the hail coming down. Some sporadic hail came down. Probably the edge of the storm. Got some pictures of the hail and the storms that looked like they went around on my location. Only high winds and on and off rain.... fast moving storms. Yesterday on the 31st. there was some winds and hard rain that started around 13:10. Then it didn't seem so bad... then lost power at 15:30 for about a half an hour. Nothing major. Just sprinkles all day with some harder stuff all day long." - Rick (FL-BV-5)  


"I was in Lakeland taking my wife to lunch when the storm hit. It was raining so hard it was hard to see and the wind was driving it sideways. Driving slowly I was able to get my wife back to work and then started home. The street she worked on was flooded and had many branches down. On the way home, it was an obstacle course of large limbs in the roads and road flooding. I passed a pine tree that had been blown out of the ground and was lying across power lines. Further down the same street, it was blocked by a tree across the road. After turning around and taking another route to the main road, I had to go almost off the road to get by a large limb and part of an oak tree that was blocking the road. When I finally got home, we had no power as a tree was blown across the power lines and knocked them down. We finally got power back Friday night." - Willard (FL-PK-37)


"Once again, we in South Pasadena were on the edge of the storm. No limbs, houses or other damage. Thank goodness. Only 3 verified tornados in Pinellas County. One in Indian Rocks Beach - second story of a beachside triplex ripped off, two others tracked northeast to Polk County. Our highest wind here at our weather station was 39.5 at the time the storm came ashore and the winds reduced as the storm continued throughout the day. Sorry, I have no pictures to offer you." -Kathie (FL-PN-17)


"Here are the most graphic of the tornado damage photos that I was able to capture on camera of the damage caused by a tornado that skipped all the way across the South Tampa peninsular, traveling at approximately 85mph moving from west to east, on March 31, 2011 at 11:35 AM... just two blocks south of my location." - Don  






 Thanks to Capt. Rick (FL-BV-36) for these amazing storm pictures from NASA/Kennedy Space Center.   


Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm! If at any time you have questions about CoCoRaHS, reading your rain gauge, or finding a location to setup your rain gauge, please feel to contact a Florida CoCoRaHS Coordinator. We are lucky enough to have regional support from National Weather Service offices across the state, as well as county/local help from several CoCoRaHS volunteers.

Take care,

Griffin Photo
Melissa Griffin
Florida CoCoRaHS State Coordinator
Assistant State Climatologist

Florida Climate Center/Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies
Florida State University 
232 R.M. Johnson Building 
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2840

850) 644-0719
[email protected]

"Because every drop counts"