From Glossary of Meteorology


Precipitation in the form of liquid water drops that have diameters greater than 0.5 mm, or, if widely scattered, the drops may be smaller.

The only other form of liquid precipitation, drizzle, is to be distinguished from rain in that drizzle drops are generally less than 0.5 mm in diameter, are very much more numerous, and reduce visibility much more than does light rain. For observing purposes, the intensity of rainfall at any given time and place may be classified as 1) "light," the rate of fall varying between a trace and 0.25 cm (0.10 in.) per hour, the maximum rate of fall being no more than 0.025 cm (0.01 in.) in six minutes; 2) "moderate," from 0.26 to 0.76 cm (0.11 to 0.30 in.) per hour, the maximum rate of fall being no more than 0.076 cm (0.03 in.) in six minutes; 3) "heavy," over 0.76 cm (0.30 in.) per hour or more than 0.076 cm (0.03 in.) in six minutes. When rain gauge measurements are not readily available to determine the rainfall intensity, estimates may be made according to a descriptive system set forth in observing manuals.

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