News for Rainfall Observers

It’s now the end of January already and I must try and keep my New Year resolution to blog more in 2017. It’s great to see so much data coming in and the steady growth in the number of rainfall observers taking part. I can see from the observations that it’s been a very dry winter. For example, Nairn Academy have recorded 158.1 mm between 1st October and the end of January. This is very similar to the Muir of Ord gauge which recorded 159.3mm over the same period. To give this some context, the average for this period recorded at SEPA’s intensity gauge at Muir of Ord is 346.2mm. Down in the Borders, the 42mm recorded at Burncastle in December is low compared to the long term average figure for December at Blythe of 79.2mm. I have noted a few points below that I hope will be of interest:

Website upgrade

Following feedback from users, we are planning to upgrade the website that will hopefully give observers the option to enter data for multiple days all at once rather than submitting one day at a time. We also hope to make the map interactive with the gauge markers changing colour in relation to the amount of rainfall recorded. This will allow an instant analysis of the rainfall pattern across Scotland.

Promotion of the service

To date SEPA haven’t actively promoted the service and we hope to rectify this in 2017 and increase the number of observers submitting data.

Reading the correct scale on the gauge

A number of new observers have been reading the wrong scale on the REMEX plastic gauge. This is understandable due the confusing concept of converting a volume over water into a rainfall depth. The scale to use is the one marked mm at the top. However, the graduations don’t look like mm. This is because they don’t not represent a distance along a ruler, but represent a rainfall depth based on one litre of water being stored in a container 1m2, which gives a rainfall depth of 1mm. The area of the gauge rim and the volume of the measuring cylinder are based on this conversation. The picture below show the correct scale to use. If you have been using the wrong scale, I would recommend editing your figures. If you have been reading the scale labelled ‘INS’ on the gauge, then the figures can be corrected by dividing them by 3.938. However, this has to be done on a day by day basis and may be time consuming if you have a long record. Another option would be to delete you existing record and start a fresh.

 measuring tube

Dealing with winter conditions

We have been lucky that it’s been a mild winter as snow and ice can make life difficult. One option is to take the gauge indoors and let the ice or snow melt into the gauge before taking a reading. Its good practice to make a comment on the type of precipitation that has fallen. This can be done on the website and adds value to the raw data. If you haven’t got time to melt the gauge in the morning or it’s snowing heavy at the time you normally observe, I would recommend you postpone the observation until it milder. If this is greater than 1 day, the observation will be marked as an accumulation by the system.

I would like to thank all observers for your dedication and hope you continue to observe in the future. The interest in the data increases with record length and I hope we will observe some interesting patterns as the record lengths increase though time


Best wishes for 2017


Grant Kennedy

Hydrometry, SEPA


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