A couple of weeks ago, when my husband and I went to the North Texas Fair and Rodeo, I picked up a little freebie that filled me with glee: A rain gauge.
Don’t get me wrong — there was really nothing special about this rain gauge. It’s just a little graduated cylinder with markings to the tenth of an inch. It’s mounted in a sort of plastic bracket that you can poke into your lawn. The only unique thing about the whole setup is that it has “Turn around, don’t drown!” printed onto the plastic part. Thanks for the reminder, public safety agencies.
But the gauge also reminded me of my days as a young 4-H’er. I completed a weather project one year that had me keeping records for weeks at a time of data like temperature, humidity and precipitation, and for those brief few weeks I imagined becoming a meteorologist instead of a journalist.
Add that to the list of about 2,694 careers I’d considered before the age of 15.
I still enjoy nerding out about weather, so on the way home from the fair I let my husband have the wheel so I could researching how to properly install my new rain gauge. (It probably helps that I don’t actually like driving, so I usually let him chauffeur me around anyway.)
Installing a rain gauge not as easy as it sounds, it turned out. You’re supposed to keep it at least as far away from structures or trees as those are tall. And in a walk around our house that evening, I realized how many trees we have looming in our back yard.
I finally found a pleasant little spot in the only open area left and stuck my rain gauge down. Technically, I should’ve stuck a pole there and mounted the rain gauge at the top of that to eliminate any possibility of rain splashing into it. But that would’ve meant interrupting my husband’s mowing pattern … and besides, it was far enough above the grass line as is, I reasoned, thanks to the little plastic bracket.
Something about the gauge must be magic, though. Last Friday, a few days after I planted it, the local dry spell broke and over the course of about three days my gauge measured nearly four inches of rainfall in our lawn.
And we’ve just kept getting more.
Sarah Einselen is editor and general manager at the Gainesville Daily Register. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.