Measuring rain is not just for meteorologists

Gauging interest: Brad Henderson says keeping a record of rainfall is invaluable for many reasons, including agriculture and insurance.

Gauging interest: Brad Henderson says keeping a record of rainfall is invaluable for many reasons, including agriculture and insurance.

When Brad Henderson met Fon Ryan from Learmonth, he realised the power and importance of recording rainfall.

“He was the greatest rainwatcher of them all,” says Brad.

Brad met Mr Ryan in 2003 when he was involved in a Burrumbeet Creek flood investigation.

“Thanks to Fon’s 50 years of daily rainfall records, we were able to model flooding for the creek into the future.”

Mr Henderson is hoping to develop a grassroots community rainfall monitoring program to bring together rainfall information from landholders across Australia.

Based on a US idea, the program gives rainwatchers a place to store and display their rain data and compare it with other rainwatchers in the region and beyond. 

Localised rainfall recording often shows marked variations from Bureau of Meteorology measurements, says Brad.

“There are often huge gaps. One of our rainwatchers recorded 51.5mm on September 9 near Coleraine which was hit by the worst flooding in decades. The nearest BoM gauge recorded 43.6mm.

“With more gauges recorded, we can more accurately know where and how much fell on any given day.”

Accurate and localised rainfall data is invaluable to governments, emergency services, insurers and farmers, says Brad Henderson, and with an increasing pattern of micro-storm cells becoming evident, towns can experience vastly different recordings over a small area.

“Recently in Geelong they recorded 90mm in one place and 3mm in another in an afternoon,” says Brad.

Mr Henderson says the program is being designed to give rainwatchers an easy way to capture their data through a smartphone app that links to a website. 

“We are seeking a corporate sponsor to help us build the program, so we can make it available to all the rainwatchers out there.  In the meantime we are trying to connect up with any rainwatchers interested in participating. 

Sponsors or volunteers can get in touch at support@rainwatchers.com.au or through Facebook @rainwatchersaustralia.