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How is rainfall measured when it exceeds gauge capacity?

Dear Tom,
Those poor people who were affected by Harvey. How do you measure a 50-inch rainfall? I’m sure that no rain gauge goes that high. Does it keep having to be emptied?
— SK

Dear SK,
Most professional-level manual rain gauges have a 10- or 20-inch capacity before they have to be emptied. If they are left unattended, rainfall in excess of the gauge’s capacity overflows and is not measured.
Most automatic rain gauges operate on a tipping-bucket type platform, which means that a teeter-totter mechanism measures and logs a specified quantity of rain (usually .01 inch or 04 inch) before it tips and discards the rain. This type of gauge, which constitutes a major part of the National Weather Service’s observational system, continues to log precipitation without observer intervention and provides rainfall in a variety of time increments ranging from minute-by-minute to multiday, monthly or even longer.
Most automatic rain gauges operate on a tipping-bucket type platform, which logs a specified quantity of rain before it tips and discards the rain.