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Name: Kirsten C.
Status: student
Age:  9
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

How many different styles of rain gauges are there? How long have rain gauges been used to measure the amount of rainfall?

Dear Kirsten-

Rain gauges come in all different sizes, and in different price ranges. Some are meant for home and garden use, and others are used for official measurements for the National Weather Service. The official rain gauge in the U.S. is an 8-inch diameter metal tube, and is used by the National Weather Service observing sites, and thousands of volunteer cooperative observers around the nation.

There are many different kinds of rain gauges also. Some actually weigh the rain, and record the amounts on a chart. There are automatic rain gauges, called "tipping bucket" rain gauges, which remotely record the amount of rain that falls. There are radar rain gauges that can be interrogated or "read" by weather radar equipment.

Inexpensive plastic rain gauges work very well for a homeowner or gardener. It is interesting to record the amount of rain for several weeks or months, and compare the amount that falls where you are to what the official measurement is.

Wendell Bechtold, Meteorologist
forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO

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