What’s the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms?

Weather Questions with Cody Nickel

This week’s weather question is: what’s the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms?

A good way to show this is with ice cream…particularly, one of those large 5-gallon containers.

When we expect only a few showers or storms – with most of the area staying rain-free, we say ‘isolated’ or ‘few.’

Let’s say this ice cream is like our viewing area. If I were to say “we are expecting isolated or a few storms this afternoon,” it would be like a few raspberries on the ice cream.

If I were to say ‘scattered,’ it’d be more like a handful of blueberries. Notice how more like a third to a half of the ice cream is now covered, but not all of it.

Widespread would be like sprinkles on the ice cream – which covers over half to all of the container or our area.

Isolated, scattered and widespread describe rain coverage, but we also use words like slight chance, chance and likely to describe the probability of precipitation.

We can demonstrate this with glasses of milk!

Only a little bit of the glass full (10 to 20 percent) would be like a slight chance. Up to half a glass would be a chance. And more than half a glass to a full glass would be likely.

So now when you look at our 7-day forecast, you’ll know exactly what it means!

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