The Difference Between Rain and Showers

So many times after giving a forecast of, “We can’t rule out a shower”  Or “A few scattered showers expected today”, someone will ask me, “Should I cancel my plans because it is going to rain?” 

Aside from water falling from the clouds, there is a big difference between a forecast of showers and rain. 

Lets start with the definition of a shower in regards to the weather. It is defined in the dictionary as a fall of rain, sleet, hail or snow (and everything in-between) of short duration. “Of short duration” is the difference between shower and rain.

Rain is defined as water falling in drops condensed from vapor in the atmosphere. Notice the lack of “short duration”.

A shower is typically hit or miss. It can be light, heavy, isolated, spotty, scattered or numerous, but short lived in nature. Rain can also be light to heavy, but lasts for hours or even days on end. Rain will also typically cover a much larger geographic area. 

The picture below is a classic example of a shower. It was a heavy shower that briefly rolled across the bay, it lasted just 10 minutes and it stayed dry just a mile away. A classic example of a forecast of “hit or miss, scattered showers.”

So when you hear us say “showers” on our Weather On The Ones forecast, don’t change those outdoor plans just yet as it is not going to rain.  What I try to convey in my forecast is, “A shower may interrupt your outdoor plans, but there won’t be any rain that washes them out.”  

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