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Understanding the Weather

How is rain measured? How is snow measured? How do you calculate the water equivalent of snow?

Precipitation is measured with tipping buckets. These contain two chambers beneath a collection funnel. When precipitation fills one side of the bucket, it empties by gravity and sends a signal to the data logger. Some tipping buckets contain internal heaters to melt snow or hail.

However, you may be interested in measuring rain yourself and want to make a simple rain gauge. Basically, any glass left outside can be used as a rain gauge. However, since rain is usually associated with wind, you will need to fasten your rain gauge to a fixed object. There are a few things you need to consider when placing your gauge. It should be in a clear area, no trees, wires, or buildings nearby. These obstructions can shelter your gauge, leading to inaccuracies. Fence edges, away from buildings, are good places for gauges. Measure the rain at the same time every day, ideally at 9am.

Snow is generally measured in the same way as rain, using tipping buckets. However, if an internal heater is not part of the setup, this may lead to long periods of no readings if the bucket becomes clogged with snow. Generally, 1cm of snow is equivalent to 1mm of rain.

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