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Ask Todd: 'Scattered' vs. 'isolated' showers

10:04 PM, Sep 27, 2012   |    comments
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Debbie Jackson asks: "What is the difference between 'scattered' showers and 'isolated' showers?"

Well Debbie, those terms, scattered and isolated, are based on the probability of getting measurable precipitation, whether it's rain, snow or a thunderstorm.

'Isolated' means a chance of precipitation of less than 30 percent. 'Scattered' is used for a 30 to 50 percent chance, and there's also the term 'likely' that's used for a probability of 60 percent or greater.

Anything above 80 percent, the forecast will be categorical, such as "rain this afternoon."

So isolated, scattered and likely all describe the probability of precipitation.

You might also hear us say terms like "brief", "occasional", or "intermittent." Those words describe the character of the precipitation. 'Brief' as you would imagine, describes short, abrupt showers. 'Occasional' is precipitation occurring at irregular or infrequent intervals, and 'intermittent' means the precipitation starts and stops; it's not continuous.

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