How is an inch of rain measured? Same goes for snow. 5 inches of snow? What’s the width, or height, or shape of this inch?



How is an inch of rain measured? Same goes for snow. 5 inches of snow? What’s the width, or height, or shape of this inch?

In: Earth Science

This one’s real simple: they have collectors that are basically just graduated cylinders on a stick. The measurement is just the vertical measurement: one inch of snow or rain means that if you stick a container out on a flat surface, the rain will fill it 1 inch deep.

In it’s most basic, you can just put out a bucket and se how deep it fills up.

The length and width just don’t matter, as in a small open area, rain falls uniformly. Only the height makes any difference.

The rain measurement is made with a rain gauge. It just needs to be placed in an open area with no obstructions, like trees, above it.

Snow measurements are make with measuring sticks in an open area with a flat surface.

Snow varies in density, when it falls and later if allowed to compact. Are you interested in plowing the streets or shoveling your walk? Just clear a bit and measure the height. Are you interested in how much runoff there will be from the mountains next spring? Take a core sample, and weigh it. Basically, convert it the equivalent in rainfall.


>What’s the width, or height, or shape of this inch?

The height is 1 inch. That’s the only measured dimension. All you care about is how much falls, treated as though it is a uniform sheet of this measured depth.

The width and shape can be anything you want.

They have gauges that are a flared funnel but they are calibrated and an inch of water in the scale is not an inch of rainfall

Most rain gauges are just a cylinder with measurements on it

Inches of snow is measured as it falls which is confusing.

If you get one inch of snow every day for 30 days and you go out to measure it you will not have 30 inches of snow because it will compact under its own weight and the snow falling comes down in different consistency.

If you are asking your favorite ski resort how much snow they have they will tell you the accumulation because that’s what you care about in that specific situation

The length and width of the volume of rain you collect is dependent on the bucket you collect it with. The bigger the bucket you use, the wider and longer the amount of water you collect will be.

However, because the rate at which rain falls is roughly the same within an area, the height you measure after the rain stops will stay the same regardless of how large a bucket you use.

It’s kinda like a cake. No matter how big a slice you cut out of the cake, the height of your slice will stay roughly the same. (assuming thay your cake isnt like a layered wedding cake with weird shapes and protrusions)