How Do You Measure Rainfall?

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Rainfall is most commonly measured with a rain gauge, which can usually be found at an outdoor store or discount store. Discover why rain gauges need to be strategically placed in the open with help from a meteorologist in this free video on understanding weather.

Part of the Video Series: Weather & Meteorology
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Video Transcript

Hello, today we're going to be talking about how to measure rainfall and the way that rainfall is most commonly measured is simply with the rain gage. Now this a garden variety of rain gage; this is one you might find in a traditional outdoor store or maybe in your local discount store and it's measuring the amount of rain that falls within the gage; the rain falls in and then simply, as it falls in, it will accumulate in the gage and wherever it stops after the rain is over, that's how much rain you've had. And for instance, if we've had three inches of rain, you would see all the way up to here; the water would be filled and you just look at the gage and say, "Okay, we had three inches of rainfall." Now if you're going to place a rain gage out in your yard to measure your own rainfall, you want to make sure of a couple of things. Number one, you do not want to be underneath the tree or too close to the house that could affect the rain falling into the rain gage. So you want to make sure that it's out pretty much in the open. If you have a yard, put it out in the middle of the yard; away from the trees; away from anything that would block any of the rain from falling into it 'cause that could affect the accuracy of the gage which generally, generally, this is the way most of the readings are taken with the rain gage. There are other types of rain gages. One is called an acoustic rain gage in which you have a membrane in a circle and what happens is is as the rain strikes the membrane, that electronically sends signal to a computer; the computer reads and estimates. Alright, if I have this much vibration from rainfall, then it will estimate how much rainfall has actually occurred and how many drops of rain have hit that membrane. So there are a couple of different types of rain gages; but by far, this is the most common type.

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