Ask the Meteorologist – Measuring Rain

Rainbow Lightening - by Melissa Finch JohnsonASK THE METEOROLOGIST

“How do you know how much it rains? Do you guess or go outside and measure it?”
Michael Hogue
South Medford High School

We have many tools at our disposal to find out how much it has rained in many locations. Since we can’t go outside and measure the rain ourselves in every city, it’s beneficial to have these tools and also count on viewers like you! Our weather computer plots real-time daily rain totals that we can use straight to air. I also have to send a special thanks for our Stormwatch12 Weather Spotters that send in their daily reports of high and low temperatures and rain totals when it rains. Those help us out a lot because many of the cities that our viewers report from we wouldn’t be able to get totals for any other way. So while we tend to stay inside, our spotters go outside to their rain gage and see how much rain they’ve received!

Then there is the National Weather Service (NWS), and my favorite tool provided by them is the Mesonet observations which are weather stations scattered across the region that give hyper-local reports including everything from temperatures, highs and lows, dewpoint, humidity, rain totals, sustained winds and wind gusts, etc. The NWS ASOS stations or Automated Surface Stations and are monitored by the NWS, so these stations provide the most accurate data, unfortunately there are a limited number of them, so we have to use other stations that can give inaccurate data. Luckily we have ways to check this data!

If data seems off we can go to the Mesowest Summary Page which provides all the data from the Mesonet observations page included what data may be inaccurate. Then we can ask the NWS directly by using the NWS Chat. This is a chat room that you must be approved to join, it includes NWS meteorologist, media personnel, ODOT employees and ODF employees. I can ask the NWS questions on here and it’s also where all storm reports the NWS receives are posted as well. So not only can we use this as a tool to get questions answered, but also to find more rain totals! The NWS Medford website also gives rain totals for the ASOS cities.

Lastly, during snow storms we can use the Tripcheck website to find snow totals at many locations including Lake of the Woods and Diamond Lake Summit. This is also where we get our road condition reports we share on air and on Facebook and Twitter.