Once a week I will try to answer your weather questions, so if there is anything you’ve always wanted to know then this is your chance!
To start the ball rolling, here’s one I get asked a lot. What is the difference between rain and showers?
Obviously if you get caught in either one you’ll get wet, the difference is simply the type of cloud they fall from.
Rain falls from layer or stratiform cloud, usually associated with dynamic frontal zones (the boundary between two air masses). Often the rain will affect a large area and last at least a few hours. With a little bit of knowledge about fronts, it’s quite simple to forecast where and when the rain will fall next. Rain can be heavy, light or even just spits of drizzle.
Showers fall from convective or cumuliform cloud, often associated with an unstable airstream or the result of daytime heating (think tropical afternoon downpours). These are much more localised small-scale events, so you may get a shower while your next-door neighbour’s garden stays dry. It’s much harder to forecast where and when showers will fall.
Showers don’t last as long as rain, however they can be more intense. And if the wind steers them the right (or wrong!) way then you can get shower after shower, making it feel more like a spell of rain.
If you have a Clever Weather question then send it my way firstname.lastname@example.org.