It's sad that a lot of weather reporting stations are changing from manned observations to automated that can't report snow/rain showers or thunderstorms, but provide continuous wind/altimeter readouts.
There are many automated weather reporting stations at airports around the US that *are* able to detect rain, snow, lightning, and visibility. Of course, anything automated has the potential to be fooled, but for the most part, these stations do a pretty good job.
Then again, the human observer has the ability to sometimes report too much information, as in a recent report at my home airport:
"... sky conditions: Few at 1,500, few at 2,500, few at 4,500, scattered at 6,000, broken at 12,000 and overcast at 22,000."