Weather Wednesday: Rain Gauges

In this Weather Wednesday we learn how to properly set up and read a rain gauge.

Rain gauge.jpeg

FARGO — Rain gauges come in all different shapes and sizes, but the StormTRACKER rain gauge has four parts: a funnel, a measuring tube, a 4-inch diameter overflow tube and this mounting bracket.

Where you place a rain gauge is essential if you want an accurate measurement, right under a tree, next to a house or sprinkler can drastically change the amount of rain falling into the gauge so try to place it in an open area on the side of a pole or post roughly two to five feet off the ground with the cylinder several inches above the top of the pole.

The funnel directs the rain into the measuring cylinder and magnifies it by a factor of 10 so that we can observe rainfall to the nearest one hundredth of an inch.

To get a true, accurate measurement of rainfall you need to be at eye level with the water. You’ll likely see two lines: the top line shows where the water clings to the sides of the gauge, the water curves down to the center of the gauge, the bottom line is called the meniscus and is the one you should use to measure with.

If there is excessive rainfall and the inner tube fills up, the overflow tube will catch the rest of the rain. Measure the water in the inner tube first, empty it and then pour the remaining water into the small tube to measure the overflow. Add the two measurements together and then send your rainfall report to the StormTRACKER team through social media or emailing . That’s the same email to send your weather photos to be entered in the rain gauge contest – and don’t forget to capture your pictures horizontally.


Don’t forget to empty out your rain gauge after each rain event. You can also sign up to be an official volunteer precipitation observer through the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network (CoCoRaHS) by signing up here .

If you don't win a rain gauge this week you can purchase and official CoCoRaHS gauge here .

Jesse Ritka is a StormTracker meteorologist and holds the AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal of approval.

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