Hey Ray! Explaining The Difference In Precipitation Terms In Weather Forecasts

Hey Ray! Explaining The Difference In Precipitation Terms In Weather Forecasts

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When meteorologists give weather forecasts, we use words as a way of describing how precipitation will arrive in the area.


When I tell my daughter Elizabeth, “You are asking to be grounded”, that doesn’t mean she’s grounded yet, but the chances are going up!


It is sort of the same with rain and thunderstorms, so you should pay close attention to the whole description.


To show the differences between the precipitation descriptions, we need a representation of a forecast area, and a data point.


We will use this square in my driveway as the forecast area, and Elizabeth was “volunteered” to be the data point.


(Photo Credit: KDKA)


When a forecast says “Isolated,” that means most areas are going to remain dry.


A shower or two might pop up in the region, but it is far more likely that you are going to stay dry.


(Photo Credit: KDKA)


When we say “scattered”, that means 30% to 50% of the area is likely going to see precipitation.


While that covers a lot of space, there will still be areas that end up dry.


So down the street could get rain, while you end up dry.


(Photo Credit: KDKA)


When we say “likely,” that means 60% to 70% of the area will get wet.


While the chances of staying dry are low, there is still a small chance rain could miss your yard.


(Photo Credit: KDKA)


If a weather system brings higher probability than that, we just say, “it’s gonna rain.”