# How Rain and Snow is measured?

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Living in California city with little rain and no snow and never understood rain/snow being measured in inches. I don’t even understand it in the slightest like someone said they got 4 inches of rain where they lived and I thought okay so probably not a lot and then they kept talking and it made me realize oh that is a lot? I just don’t get it! Any of it. Can someone explain why inches are used and what it means 2 inches of rain vs 4, etc.

Thanks!

In: Planetary Science

It literally means what it says.

To measure rain you put out a straight hollow tube and let it fill while the rain falls. Then you measure how deep the water is. If the water didn’t absorb/run off, there would be that many inches of standing water on the ground.

for snow you pick a flat spot and just stick a ruler in it to see how deep it is, since it doesn’t run off or sink in like rain. It just sits there in a pretty even layer unless the wind was blowing.

You can buy a pre-marked rain gauge anywhere that sells garden supplies. California gets at least *some* rain. Rain gauges are cheap, you can get a plain one for just a few dollars. You should get one and put it outside your window so you can see how it works the next time you get rain. You’ll probably measure fractions of an inch, but California’s “rainy season” is coming up, isn’t it?

you put out a tube with inches marked on it so that it collects rain.

then you look at it to see how many inches of water are in it.

4 inches of water effectivly means that if the water pooled up instead of flowing, it would be 4 inches deep everywhere.

snow is slightly different, but the same. for snow you just put out a flat board, let snow fall on it, measure it, then sweep the board off.

but since snow doesnt flow, everywhere will have that many inches of snow.