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Rain Gauges

# Rain Gauges

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03/26/2012

Tipping bucket rain gauge
Symon’s rain gauge

rain gauge

How Does a Tipping Bucket Rain GaugeWork?
A Lesson in the Weather Instruments HOW-TO Series

barometers Each time the bucket fills with rain, the see-saw tips. The total rainfall is measured bycounting how many times the bucket tips.
Copyright www.weatherhut.com 2007. Used with permission.

by Guest Writer Jenni Worboys

What is a Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge?
A tipping bucket rain gauge is a meteorological device that measures the amount of precipitation, or rain, that has fallen. It is one of the most common tools used to measurerainfall. Tipping bucket rain gauges are a really interesting and fun way for you and yourchildren to learn about the weather, and predict what the weather will be in your area.
How a Tipping Bucket Gauge Works
A tipping bucket rain gauge has several components that allow it to accurately measure of rainfall. As rain falls it lands in the funnel of the tipping bucket rain gauge. The rain travelsdown the funnel and drips into one of two very c
arefully calibrated „buckets‟ balanced on a
pivot (like a see-saw).

The top bucket is held in place by a magnet until it has filled to the calibrated amount(usually approximately 0.001 inches of rain). When the bucket has filled to this amount, themagnet will release its hold, causing the bucket to tip. The water then empties down adrainage hole and raises the other to sit underneath the funnel. When the bucket tips, ittriggers a reed switch (or sensor), sending a message to the display or weather station.
The display counts the number of times the switch is triggered. Because it knows how muchrain is needed to fill the bucket, the display can calculate the rainfall. Rainfall is measured ininches; 1" of rain would fill a container with straight edges to a level of 1".
Getting the Best Results from Your Rain Gauge
To get the most accurate results from a tipping bucket rain gauge, you need to properly installthe rain gauge.1.

The rain gauge must be positioned on a flat surface
–

if the surface isn‟t flat, the see
-saw may tip before the bucket has filled to the calibrated level, or not tip at all. If thebucket doesn't tip at the calibrated level, the rainfall calculated will not be correct.Use a spirit level to determine whether a surface is flat, and then fix the gauge to theflat surface to ensure you are getting an accurate reading.2.

The rain gauge must be positioned on a surface that does not vibrate
–
surfaces suchas a porch or fence can move and vibrate. The tipping bucket is very sensitive and anyvibrations could cause the gauge to tip even if it is not raining.3.

The instrument must not be positioned near trees
–
being positioned near trees couldallow leaves or pollen to fall inside the funnel and block it, causing an inaccuratereading.4.

It must not be positioned in a sheltered area
–
Being positioned in a sheltered location(such us beside your house or a fence) could significantly increase or decrease theamount of rain depending on the wind direction, and cause an inaccurate reading. The
gauge should be positioned at least twice as far away from the object as the object‟s
height (e.g. if the fence is 6 feet high, the gauge should be positioned at least 12 feetaway).5.

Your weather equipment must not be located near any magnetic, steel, or iron objects
–
magnetic, steel, or iron objects can affect the amount of time the magnet will holdthe bucket or whether it will hold it all, causing an inaccurate reading.
Will a Rain Gauge Measure Snow?
If it snows where you live, most rain gauges will not be able to measure the snow fall; snowwill block the opening of the collection funnel. However, special snow gauges are availableto measure this.Following these recommendations should ensure your get an accurate result from yourtipping bucket rain gauge.