MYNORTHWEST NEWS

There really is a difference between rain and showers

Feb 8, 2024, 7:36 AM | Updated: 9:35 am

Weather radar...

Doppler radar shows the different colors associated with rain vs. showers. (National Weather Service)

(National Weather Service)

Rain versus showers. Yes, both of these terms are wet and can be confusing. Some use rain and showers interchangeably. Yet, there is a significant difference between rain and showers.

Rain is a steady precipitation, usually associated with a Pacific frontal system moving through Western Washington.

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Showers involve a more unstable air mass – much cooler aloft than at the surface, making it easy for the lower-level warmer air to rise, create clouds, build into showers and sometimes thunderstorms.

In Western Washington, it is quite common for a Pacific frontal system to move onshore and spread rain inland. Then, after the front moves further inland, a cooler, more unstable air mass follows, producing showers.

On Doppler weather radar, it is relatively easy to see the difference between rain and showers. Rain will tend to be widespread across the region while showers will appear more spotty or scattered. This radar image shows a frontal system with steady rain moving thru the Puget Sound/ I-5 corridor, and scattered showers moving onshore from off the coast.

More from Ted Buehner: Weather vs climate: What’s the difference?

If it is cold enough, the precipitation can fall both as snow with an incoming and passing frontal system and snow showers in the wake of such a system.

Now you know the difference between rain and showers. Perhaps this knowledge will help you win a trivia context!

Ted Buehner is KIRO Newsradio’s meteorologist.

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There really is a difference between rain and showers