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How Detailed With Precipitation Timing Can You Get in Weather Reports?

stopwatchContributed by Kim Cuozzo, Marketing Associate, Forensic Weather Marketing Team

Our clients often ask us what level of detail we can provide in our site-specific reports with regard to precipitation amounts and start/stop times.  The answer varies depending on what type of precipitation occurred during the period covered in the report.  Weather data, as recorded at official National Weather Service reporting stations, provides liquid precipitation amounts on an hourly basis.  These hourly totals are used by our meteorologists, along with other weather parameters, to calculate the estimated hourly snowfall amounts.  Hourly snowfall is often asked for when the case or claim involves a maintenance contract with a minimum number of “inches on the ground” before plowing or treating the surface is required.  Unlike snowfall amounts, rainfall can be broken down into even smaller increments of 5-6 minutes using Doppler radar images.  Our forensic meteorologists are often asked to determine how much rain fell in the 15 minutes prior to an auto accident, and this is the only way that can be done.  Doppler radar is also used to fine tune start and stop times of precipitation in specific locations, especially when the weather stations in the area conflict with each other.