Rain or Showers?

Posted: November 30, 2009 in ALL TOPICS, WEATHER WORDS

Rain, Showers, and Precipitation

A question that viewers ask a lot is about the words used for a wet forecast…  When there’s a chance for rain or showers – what’s the difference?  Believe it or not –  a lot!

Rain is precipitation that forms from stratus clouds.  Rain is a condition that is more widespread than showers.  Rain is steady, and is less intense than showers.  Showers form from cumulus clouds, more isolated, short-lived.  Showers affect a smaller area and are often more intense than rain.

Rain can occur in different durations changing the description. 

Brief rain – short, sudden showers or periods of rain.

Intermittent – on and off intervals, not continuous. 

Occasional – irregular, infrequent intervals of precipitation.

Frequent – persistent short intervals, happening regularly and often. 

Periods of precipitation – rain or snow falling most of the time with breaks.

The area or distribution of the rain is also describable in a forecast. 

Isolated – showers separated during a given period of time. 

Few showers – indicated in time, not over an area. 

Local – restricted to a smaller area. 

Patchy – irregularly occurring in an area.

Scattered – not widespread but of greater occurrence than isolated showers.

Amy Freeze Doing the Coin Toss for Chicago Fire

Amy Freeze Doing the Coin Toss for Chicago Fire


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