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The term precipitation is used to designate any way the water falls from
the clouds to the ground. There is a list made by meteorologists ten forms
of precipitation but usually only distinguish three: rain, hail and snow.
The clouds to ascend expand and in doing so cool reaching the water
vapor dew point and condensation. Condensation makes the force of
gravity overcomes the suspension and the water falls to the ground
originating different rainfall.

How precipitation occurs?

Rainfall occurs due to water vapor caused by the evaporation of water
from oceans, rivers, seas, plants and various living beings.
Water vapor cools and condenses taking liquid. In this way the clouds are
finally agents causing precipitation are formed.
We know of two states in which water vapor precipitates:
Solid as snow or hail; and fluid as rain.

In relation to its origin, we can classify precipitation in three types:
convection, orographic or front.
Convective precipitation: When warm air masses, ascend in height, and
subsequently cooled, precipitation is generated. They are typical hot and
humid regions.
Orographic rainfall: warm air masses rise on a mountainous terrain. Then
the air cools enough to form clouds and precipitation in liquid form. They
are typical of mountainous regions.
Front Precipitation: When two air masses of different temperatures collide
frontally, the mass of warm air rises above the cold air, chilling turn. These
are known summer storms, and in some cases, in our country cause the
"cold drop".
The study of rainfall is basic in any regional hydrological study to quantify
water resources, since they constitute the principal (usually the only)

entry of water into the basin. It is also essential in forecasting floods, civil
engineering designs, erosion studies, etc.
Intensity of Precipitation: Equals precipitation / time

How precipitation is formed?

Rainfall amounts begins to form when warm, moist air. Upon cooling air,
water vapor begins to condense on condensation nuclei, forming clouds.
After water droplets are made large enough, the following two processes
can occur.
Coalescence (fusion)
Coalescence occurs when water droplets merge to create other larger
droplets, or when droplets are frozen in an ice crystal. Air resistance
causes water droplets in a cloud remain immobile. When air turbulence
occurs, water droplets collide, producing larger droplets. When these
droplets descend, continuous melting, so that the droplets become heavy
enough to overcome air resistance and fall as rain. The coalecescencia
happens more often happens in clouds above freezing.

Bergeron process
Bergeron process occurs when gain ice crystal water molecules near the
supercooled water droplets. When these ice crystals gain enough mass,
begin to fall. This usually requires more mass than the fusion between the
glass and the neighboring water droplets. This process is temperature
dependent because of supercooled water droplets in a cloud only exist
below freezing. Moreover, due to the large temperature difference
between the cloud and the ground level, these ice crystals may melt when
they fall and become rain.

Size and shape
Raindrops have sizes within the limits of 0.1 mm to 9 mm diameter, and
above this size tend to break. Smaller droplets are called cloud droplets,
and its shape is spherical. When a raindrop increases in size, its shape
becomes more rounded, with a larger cross section.

Intensity and duration

The intensity and duration of the precipitation are generally inversely
related; ie, high intensity storms probably be of short duration and low
intensity storms may have a long duration.
Intensity and area
Over a large area precipitation is usually less intense than on a small
Droplet size and intensity
High intensity storms have a droplet size larger than low intensity storms.
Measurement of precipitation
The standard method of measuring the rainfall or snowfall is a standard
gauge, which can be plastic or metal, and between 100 mm and 200 mm.
The inner cylinder is filled with 25 mm of rain, the overflow flows into the
outer cylinder. Calibrators plastics have markings on the inner cylinder
with a resolution of 0.25 mm, while metal gauges require the use of a pole
designed with markings 0.25 mm. These calibrators are adapted for winter
funnel and removing the inner cylinder allowing rain and snow into the
outer cylinder. Once the snow or ice finishes to accumulate, or when about
300 mm, is removed to melt, or hot water is used to fill the inner cylinder
to melt the frozen outer cylinder precipitation, keeping the Hot amount of
fluid added, which is then subtracted from the overall total once all ice or
snow has melted.
Other types of gauges include wedge gauge (the cheapest and most
fragile gauge), the tipping bucket rain gauge and heavy gauge. Rain
gauges wedge and tipping bucket have problems with snow. Attempts to
compensate for snow or ice heating the rocker wedge have limited
success because the snow can sublimate if the gauge is kept above
freezing. Heavy rain gauges with antifreeze are more appropriate for
snow, but we must remove the funnel before the start of precipitation. For
those who want to measure precipitation of a home and economically, is
possible with a cylindrical can with straight sides, but their accuracy
depends on the rule that is used to measure the rain. Any of these gauges
may be built in house.


Overall a measure daily rainfall may be sufficient, but often need a

continuous record of the phenomenon; for example if one day down 100
mm, which originated coming will be very different if recorded along all
day or have fallen in an hour.
A classic pluvigrafo but works like a rain gauge that records the evolution
of precipitation over time, either with ink and paper, either digitally.

Is a graph expresses the time-dependent precipitation. The ordinate may
include the fall precipitation (mm) or intensity of precipitation (mm / hour)
Generally shown as a histogram (bar chart.)
For processing, if it is a monthly or annual hietograma, enough to
represent daily data, if it is hietograma a day or hour, we need a band
pluvigrafo, reading the precipitation falling in the selected intervals,
example 10 in 10 minutes.
If you do not have a pluvigrafo, but only of daily precipitation can even
calculate the expected shape of hietograma
There are several networks of precipitation measurements spread around
the world who share their data over the Internet or local weather office.
Precipitation data are important to forecast river flows and water quality
of the river using hydrological models such as SWMM transport, SHE or
DSSAM model.
Return period
The probability that an event occurs, a specified duration and intensity, is
called frequency or return period. The intensity of a storm can be
predicted for any return period and duration of the storm, from tables
based on historical item data.
Flooding frequency
There is no way to predict when a flood will occur and what size it is, but
the events of past floods can provide some information as to what you
might expect.

Significance rainfall in engineering

Many civil engineering works are deeply influenced by climatic factors,
among which stands out for its importance rainfall. In fact, a correct
dimensioning of drainage life ensure a road, railway, airport. Knowledge of
extreme rainfall and consequent proper sizing of extravasores organs of
dams ensure their safety and security of stocks and other water structures
that lie below it. Knowledge of the heavy rains of short duration, it is
important to size the urban drainage and prevent flooding in the towns.
The characteristics of rainfall that must be known for these cases are:
The rainfall intensity and duration of rain: these two characteristics are
associated. For a while of return and increased the duration of the rainfall
average intensity decreases, the formulation of this dependence is
determined empirically and case by case, based on observed data directly
on the site studied or other neighboring sites with same orographic
characteristics. This formulation is known as IDF curves or Current FlagDuration-Frecuencia.
Extreme rainfall, ie with return times of 500, 1,000 and 10,000 years or
the probable maximum precipitation, or PMP, are determined for each
particular site, for statistical procedure, based on observations of long