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What is a Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge?

Rainfall can be measured in various ways, depending on the intended use. One of the most common forms of rain gauges is the tipping bucket rain gauge (TBRG), which is used to collect and measure the amount of precipitation over a large area. The TBRG consists of two buckets with an empty section in the middle that can tilt or tip when filled with water. As one bucket fills, it tips, emptying its contents into the lower bucket and providing an accurate measurement of rainfall over a set period of time.

How Does a Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge Work?

The TBRG measures rainfall by counting the number of tips or tilts of its buckets. As one bucket fills from precipitation, it tips, emptying its contents into the lower bucket. This allows for a more precise measurement than other types of rain gauges as it takes into account both the amount and intensity of precipitation over time. Each tip is recorded and can be used to calculate the total precipitation levels for a given area at any given time.

The TBRG’s two buckets are usually made up of aluminum or plastic. They are connected to a hinge at one end and suspended above a collecting pan by a spring-loaded system. This spring-loaded system helps to measure the force of each tip or tilt, which allows for more accurate and consistent measurements. The collection pan is designed to catch any water that may spill over from the buckets during tipping.

Advantages of Using a Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge

The TBRG is an effective tool for measuring precipitation because it provides an accurate, reliable, and consistent reading with each tip or tilt. This type of rain gauge is particularly useful for monitoring precipitation levels in areas where there is a high risk of flooding or water runoff due to heavy rains. It is also useful for monitoring stormwater runoff from urban areas as it can accurately record even small amounts of precipitation.

In addition, the TBRG is relatively low-cost and easy to install and maintain. It also requires less frequent calibration than other types of rain gauges, which helps to reduce operational costs. Finally, compared to other rain gauges, the TBRG is less prone to false readings, as it measures both amount and intensity of rainfall over time.

Limitations of Using a Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge

Despite its many advantages, there are some limitations to using a tipping bucket rain gauge. One limitation is that it does not measure the size or shape of particles, so it cannot measure snowfall accurately. It is also not suitable for measuring wind-driven rain since wind can move droplets out of the collection pan before they are tipped into the buckets. Finally, it can be sensitive to temperature fluctuations since warm air can evaporate droplets before they enter the collecting pan.


The tipping bucket rain gauge is an effective tool for measuring rainfall over large areas, as it provides an accurate and reliable reading each time its buckets tilt or tip due to water accumulation. In addition, it offers several advantages such as low cost maintenance and installation, and less frequent calibration requirements compared to other types of rain gauges. Despite these advantages, there are some limitations with using this type of rain gauge including its inability to measure snowfall as well as wind-driven rain.

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