Operational Context – Extreme Rainfall

Today’s post is part 3 of a series on Operational Context (View the other posts in the series here).  In this third series, we will be looking at the same questions that we’ve been looking at throughout this series.  Today’s post will be looking at rainfall amounts, and is tied very closely to the last post on drought.  Essentially, many of the same datasets for extreme rainfall and drought can be used with one another, it’s just that the rainfall data is looking for an absence of rainfall when you’re looking at drought.  This will also tie into the next post on Operational Context – Flooding which will be looking at the extreme rainfall events and their impact as the water runs off.  So, let’s go ahead and look at today’s theme – extreme rainfall.

There are several ways to measure or estimate rainfall.  Most people know about rain gages and using them to measure rainfall (see examples in post on Innovative Ways to Teach the 3 M’s – Math, Maps, Measurement).  Rain gages are great for measuring what fell in a specific location, but there will always be gaps in coverage.  Rainfall can be enhanced or reduced by terrain or other geographic features, so point data by itself isn’t enough.  There are rain gages at major airports, and there are companies with portable weather stations where rainfall can be measured.  Additionally, did you know that you can participate in rainfall measurement directly by participating in CoCoRaHS (stands for Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow Network)? Continue reading