Adding Assurance – Dual Rain Gauges

When rainfall data counts, it’s a shock to go to the Oklahoma Mesonet and find ‘NA,’ ‘Not Available.’ Just like you, all of us at the Mesonet hate missing data too. That is why we are so committed, from our field techs to our website wizards, to collect and confirm all the data we can from the Oklahoma Mesonet system. The Mesonet team works continually to make sure that quality assured data keeps flowing from Mesonet’s 120 sites, every five minutes, every day.

2015-12-22.No01.AgBlog.Mesonet Team

(Part of the Oklahoma Mesonet Team at the Ron Elliott Mesonet Site Dedication – 09/11/15)

To help us do a better job of collecting and confirming precipitation data we finished adding a second rain gauge to every Mesonet site in late 2015. This gives all of us in Oklahoma a new level of assurance that rain data will be available whenever it’s needed.

2015-12-22.No02.AgBlog.dual rain gauge

The Oklahoma Mesonet rain gauges are mechanical tipping buckets. They collect one one-hundredth of an inch of water, then tip to receive another one-hundredth of an inch. They act like a teeter-totter rocking back and forth as they fill and empty when they tip. By counting the number of tips, we calculate the water collected by the gauge.

2015-12-22.No03.AgBlog.Rain gauge rebuild.Ryan Brashear

(Ryan Brashear, Mesonet Lab Technician, rebuilding rain gauge tipping mechanism.)

2015-12-22.No04.AgBlog.Rain guage in pan

Our second rain gauge provides a new level of data assurance. In the past, if something happened to our single rain gauge, all of us were out of luck on data at that Mesonet site. Now we have a backup to turn to. In several situations in 2014 and 2015, winds caused one gauge housing to tip over. The second gauge became the data collector, until the other gauge could be fixed.


Spiders and debris have long been culprits of bad rain data. Spiders like to set up strings of webbing that disrupt tipping bucket action. Plant debris blown onto the collection funnel screen plugs the screen and lowers water collection. Now when one gauge’s water collection seems off, there is a second gauge and radar to compare it to.

That has meant that our quality assurance crew can find problems faster and resolve rain gauge issues sooner.

Mesonet wouldn’t have a second rain gauge without the great work by our calibrations lab team, field technicians, ingest data programmers and quality assurance folks. Work on installing second rain gauges and being able to pull data seamlessly from either gauge came about over an 18-month period, that started in June 2014 and ran into late 2015.

2015-12-22.No06.AgBlog.Dual RainGauge Test

(Field testing both rain gauges to verify water collection accuracy.)

Check out all of the Mesonet Rainfall products by going to the Rainfall section in the Mesonet Weather group.

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