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Rain Gauges

Glass rain gauges have been used for centuries to help farmers and weather observers determine how much rain has fallen at a specific location during a certain period of time. Today, home observers and gardeners can use a rain gauge to help them keep track of the local climatic conditions. This may help determine watering schedules for lawns and gardens.

How does a rain gauge work?

Rainfall rates can vary widely within just a few miles when summer thunderstorms or even winter snows hit. If you're a homeowner who wants to know how much water has fallen in your garden, a collection cylinder will quickly give you the answer.

National Weather Service observation stations have truly sophisticated systems to collect rain and note the amount that has fallen. These systems also follow very specific and detailed steps to ensure that the information is as accurate as possible. A glass rain gauge placed in your garden doesn't have to be quite so sophisticated.

Precipitation that hits your garden collection device falls into an open cylinder that is shaped like a funnel with the largest part of the cylinder at the top. The rain or snow then collects in a narrow cylinder marked with graduated lines.

Where should you place a rain gauge?

Experts recommend that you place the rain gauge in an open area of the garden away from your home, trees and any other buildings on the property. The best advice is to locate it twice the distance away from the closest tall building or tree. If you want to place it near a 20-foot tall tree, for example, you should locate it 40 feet from that tree. You get the most accurate measurements when you empty the water every 24 hours.

How is the rainfall calibrated?

Rainfall gauge cylinders use measurements of inches or centimeters; most display both inches and centimeters on the cylinder. Some gauges record as little as 1 inch of precipitation while others have the ability to measure up to 6 inches of liquid at a time. Many of these instruments include mesh filters that prevent leaves and other debris from clogging the instrument.

What are the different types of rain gauges?

There are a number of different types of these devices. Glass models have been a part of weather observing tools for centuries while most home weather observers use acrylic models today. More decorative garden gauges are made of plastic, resin, or even brass. A brass rain gauge, which is designed differently than a standard rainfall measuring device, is a float-and-lever type that has had a long history. Digital and wireless gauges that are part of home observing stations are also available.

Can parts of rain gauges be replaced?

The inch or centimeter markings on a glass or other type of cylinder will eventually wear off after years of use. That's no reason to get rid of the entire instrument, however. Replacements can be purchased for glass, acrylic or plastic rain gauges. The replacement glass tube, which typically come in a package of two, can easily be substituted for the worn-out tube and will help you keep track of the rain that your lawn and garden receive.

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