Educational - Drizzle vs. rain
Back to: Weather Q & A
"Rain" refers to steady yucko stuff, and comes in 3 varieties--light, moderate, and heavy. "Rain" implies the wet stuff is precipitating for non-cumuliform clouds--i.e., non-puffy clouds called nimbostratus. Showers, on the other hand, imply a degree of non-steadiness--they start and stop and spit and dump. "Showers" fall from cumuliform clouds--the puffier the better. Your showers typically fall from the not-so-puffy stratocumulus clouds, so they tend to not be so heavy. Showers from super-puffy clouds, the cumulonimbus or thunderstorm clouds,can be heavy. "Showers" also are classified as light, moderate, or heavy.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Drizzle and showers are INCOMPATIBLE! You cannot have showers of drizzle. Drizzle only falls from non-puffy stratus-type clouds with little vertical winds; thus drizzle has a smaller droplet size (since the relatively slow vertical winds cannot hold up large drops), and tends to fall quite steadily. We flight meteorologists on hurricane reconnaissance flights used to get in boo-koo TROUBLE with the National Hurricane Center if we can in a report indicating showers of drizzle. The cut-off droplet size for drizzle vs.rain is somewhere around 1 mm.