Monday, January 25, 2010

Needed - precipitation recorders

If you have looked through this part of The Commentary, you recognize that I am a member of a group who records precipitation. I do that because more data is needed to understand the weather in Southeast Texas. The National Weather Bureau put me onto this as he explained the limitations of weather forecasters in predicting or even giving notice of tornadoes and severe weather. There is one radar system for the entire area located near Galveston bay. Due to the curvature of the earth, it is able to "see" only the highest of clouds, missing activities below a certain altitude. To compensate for that, human weather spotters are trained and encouraged to identify cloud threats and to report hail and intense winds.

Additionally, there is insufficient data to study for detailed analysis. A number of agencies and organizations correlate radar and other data with actual precipitation. A few locations in Montgomery County report rainfall, snow and hail, but not many. A more dense set of information is needed to understand the intensity of the weather in any given event. Also, estimates are not good for scientific studies. Currently, based on satellite and radar, estimates of rainfall are often used, along with any data observed on the ground.

Therefore, if you can, please participate in this program  by purchasing the required rain gauge which measures rainfall to the nearest .01 inch (about $30).  Then take the free electronic course that the website offers and enter the data into the database every day (including zero precipitation). You will also be asked to report the size of hail and accumulations of snow, although that rarely occurs.

Website for data reporting and related infoirmation