What is a Rain Gauge? Why and How Rainfall Totals Matter

What is a Rain Gauge? Why and How Rainfall Totals Matter

Rainfall is an important part of measuring the local weather, as it is a key factor in successful agriculture and even predicting severe weather. But how do you measure rainfall, and how can you make sure it's accurate? One answer lies within the rain gauge. A rain gauge is a device used to measure and record rainfall. This review explains what you need to know about a rain gauge while collecting rainfall totals.

What is Rainfall Monitoring?

Rainfall monitoring is the process of collecting data on rainfall and its patterns in different locations. It is done with a network of rain gauges deployed across a region. A network of rain gauges can show how rainfall varies in different places, how it changes over time, and how it relates to other types of weather.

For example, The National Weather Service offers rainfall monitoring in specified areas. It ranges from 1-72 hours.

What is a Rain Gauge?

A rain gauge is a device used to measure and record rainfall. The rain gauge is a bucket or tube that is placed outside. Installation is typically 2-to-5 feet off the ground, depending on if you are in an open or developed area. The gauge collects rainfall over a specific period of time in a specified area.

How Does a Rain Gauge Work?

This depends on the type of rain gauge. There are 3 different types of rain gauges that use different equipment for measuring rainfall. However, they have the same basic function of collecting rainwater and measuring it. This is done with aspects such as a collection funnel, measuring scale, or small buckets. The measurements are typically expressed in millimeters.

What are the 3 Types of Rain Gauges?

Did you know that there is more than one type of rain gauge? These are the 3 types that you will encounter:

Standard Rain Gauge: A standard rain gauge has a large open top and works as a funnel system. This gauge works by magnifying the liquid from rainfall by a factor of 10. This gives you precise measurements down to one-hundredth of an inch.

Tipping bucket rain gauges work differently from standard rain gauges. Two small buckets are connected to the receiving funnel. One bucket is filled at one-hundredth of an inch. This causes the liquid to tip into the outer shell of the gauge, triggering the second bucket to replace the first. Repeating the process allows precise measurement of rainfall intensity and amount. Wireless weather stations use this gauge as a standard.

Weighing Gauge: The universal weighing rain gauge is ideal for climatology applications. The gauge collects more rain due to a vacuum that accounts for wind effects. Because the weighing mechanism at the bottom of the collector can measure depth and time simultaneously, these gauges are very accurate in measuring rainfall intensity. The tipping bucket gauges record data much like the older versions.

What is the Purpose of a Rain Gauge?

NOAA relies on rainfall data from weather station networks for emergency preparedness and resource management.

​​"When big storms hit California, current technology does not provide forecasters with the detailed information needed to inform reservoir operations, flood protection, combined sewer-stormwater systems and emergency preparedness. Accurate and timely precipitation information is critical for making decisions regarding public safety, infrastructure operations, and resource allocations."

There are many different purposes for a rain gauge. This device assists with collecting rainfall totals for purposes such as:

  • The gauges are placed in areas that are prone to floodings, such as riverbanks and low-lying areas. This can assist with emergency preparedness in the event of a flood.
  • Agriculture uses rainfall data to determine irrigation requirements for crops.
  • Mosquito abatement uses rainfall data to track when and where mosquitoes breed. This is useful to help prevent infestation and the spread of disease.
  • Lawn and garden monitoring uses rainfall data to determine how much water is needed for lawns and gardens. Just like agriculture, this can help prevent drought.
  • Engineers use rainfall measurements in planning and decision-making prior to construction projects.

Ensure Accurate Rainfall Totals with Professional Grade Precipitation Gauges

Rainfall monitoring is the process of collecting data on rainfall and its patterns in different locations.

The KestrelMet 6000 Weather Station provides you with precise rainfall measurements and comprehensive weather conditions monitoring. Watch this video to learn how to keep your KestrelMet rain bucket free and clear of debris that could affect the accuracy of readings.