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What Is a Rain Gauge

Turtle Rain Gauge A rain gauge is a simple weather instrument used to gather data concerning the amount of liquid or solid (like rain or snow) precipitation over a given period.

Typical rain gauges measure precipitation in terms of millimeters, although depending on the region of the world, it can be reported in terms of centimeters or inches. The most basic and fundamental type of rain gauge is a simple graduated cylinder - just a small tube that collects rainfall during a specified period of time.

Having your very own rain gauge can be a fun and exciting way for you and your family to get involved with weather instruments. Rain gauges can also provide useful information to many outdoor enthusiasts, especially gardeners.

Types of Rain Gauges

  • Standard rain gauges are simply made of a funnel attached to a graduated cylinder. Rain falls into the funnel and collects into the cylinder, allowing readings to be made. Some standard rain gauges can be adjusted to ensure an accurate level.
  • Weighing rain gauges are constructed of a storage container on top of a pen that simply records the changes in weight of the container. The more rain than falls into the container, the heavier the container gets, allowing an accurate precipitation reading to be made.
  • Tipping bucket rain gauges start with a large copper cylinder set into the ground. A funnel on top of the cylinder catches rain, leading it into the cylinder, which falls on one of two balanced levers. When a certain amount of rain is collected, a switch is activated, transmitting precipitation levels to a recording device. Then one of two collection buckets is dumped, allowing perpetual collection without the need for manual dumping.
  • Decorative rain gauges come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Some might be in the shape of a frog, others may resemble a garden gnome. Most popular with home gardeners, decorative rain gauges not only add a visually appealing element to gardens, but serve a practical purpose as well.
  • Digital rain gauges work in a similar manner to standard rain gauges, although they have the ability to read precipitation levels, translate that information into digital data, and transmit that data to a wireless receiver. The obvious advantage to a digital rain gauge is that you don't have to go outside to get a reading, the rain level can be viewed on the receiver inside your house. Many digital rain gauges also come with temperature gauges and other weather instrumentation.

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