Q: You sometimes hear in the forecast of either “scatteredâ€ or “isolatedâ€ showers. What is the difference?
A: The terms can be confusing, but both refer to rain chances, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University. “In general, weather forecasters use the term â€˜isolatedâ€™ to refer to the possibility of showers being small in any given location, at around 10 to 20 percent,â€ he explains. “Scattered showers mean rain chances are a little higher â€“ usually in the 30 to 50 percent range. So you have a better chance of getting wet if the forecast calls for scattered showers rather than isolated showers.â€
Q: Is there another term for probable rainfall?
A: Yes, just to make it a bit more confusing, add the term “numerousâ€ to the mix, he adds. “If the forecast says numerous showers, that means you have even better rain chances,â€ McRoberts says. “The National Weather Service defines a forecast of numerous showers for a given location as a 60 to 70 percent chance of receiving precipitation. Sometimes this same type of forecast may also be referred to as â€˜widespread.â€™ So on a spring day, if the forecast calls for numerous or widespread showers, you are more likely to get rainfall than a forecast that calls for isolated or scattered showers.â€