shower or rain?


It is pouring here in Manhattan and my coworker Robert just mentioned that in today’s weather forecast it says ‘Rain’ but in the coming days it predicts ‘Showers’. We were wondering about the difference?Here’s the answer:

What then is the difference between rain and a rain shower?

The difference is the cloud it comes from. Showers come from cumuliform clouds – cumulus and cumulonimbus. Showers can be showers of rain, snow or hail but if snow or hail is expected it is named directly. “Showers” by itself always means showers of rain. Cumulus and particularly cumulonimbus clouds (thunderstorm clouds) can be very deep and can produce very heavy rain showers. The heaviest rain you will experience will be from a shower. Hail always comes from cumulonimbus cloud. Cumuliform clouds have definite edges, we can see them, so showers start and stop suddenly.

Rain comes from stratiform cloud. Altostratus and nimbostratus are the rain bearing clouds with nimbostratus being thicker and producing heavier rain. In northeastern NSW we get most of our rain from showers but occasionally, an ex-tropical cyclone, an east coast low or a northwest cloud band will bring overcast stratiform cloud and rain. This rain can last for hours and can be heavy.

Drizzle comes from stratus cloud which is very low level cloud, often lifted fog. Drizzle is defined by its size, the droplets always with a diameter of less than 0.5mm. Larger than that, they are raindrops. The maximum size of a raindrop is 5-6mm diameter which is about a quarter the diameter of a $2 coin.

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