Footer Pages


Types of British Rain

Britain is notable for many things; It’s a small island with a bewildering variety of dampish environments with quite distinct geography, accents and customs and people from valley to valley to valley. Mainly Britain is very moist & wet, a land of rivers connecting and taking water that falls in the form of rain.

Nowhere in Britain is more than 74½ miles from the sea.

It rains a lot here, and it has struck me more and more that really there are many types of rain and that a thorough examination of the types could aid folk in their walks and meanderings around our wet islands.

This is not by any means an exhaustive list, and I have discovered others (notably the Beaufort Scale) who have tried similarly to classify rain, but this is my take on it and represents as far as I know some of the main types of liquid precipitation.

Types of British Rain

  1. Mist
    • Clammy Super fine lingering droplets low cloud, sea frets, condensation/precipitation
  2. Mizzle
    • Damp Fine droplets low velocity refreshing
  3. Drizzle
    • Dank Small droplets, Dewy light wind
  4. Spitting
    • Medium drops slow
  5. Spotting
    • Medium drops, non-committal, random
  6. Rain
    • Regular, medium drops Grey clouds & windy with gusts
  7. Showers
    • Medium drop often, blowy
  8. Downpour.
    • Soggy, drenching squelchy in your shoes
  9. Raining cats and dogs
    • When cats and dogs refuse to go out
  10. Pouring it down
    • Persistent, heavy utterly drenching, umbrella crucial
  11. Torrential
    • Flood warning level
  12. Storm
  13. Hurricane
    • Time to head for high ground
  14. Deluge
    • Biblical – look for a boat!
  15. Sleet
    • The first form of frozen precipitation
  16. Hail
    • Completely frozen precipitation

The proper understanding of the types of British rain could be helpful in furthering the appropriate use of hats and or umbrellas if needed to protect one from saturation due to sporadic outbursts from the clouds above.

When one examines the nature of the rain as a function we can see that it is combination of wind and water droplets that give us our distinct types of different British rain. But the landscape and geography also affect the quantity & quality of rain.

Rain equation Theory

(Water droplet size x wind speed x trajectory x geography x quantity of water x the duration of rain )= qualitative and quantitative experience of a rain downpour.

This is by no means an absolute equation, I offer it up for your deliberation…


12 Responses to Types of British Rain

  1. who_me July 13, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    is it possible to keep dry when the rain is horizontal?

    • Jonathon Blakeley July 13, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

      no doubtful – horizontal rain is in the storm to hurricane range

  2. Ariadna Theokopoulos July 13, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    Your list surprises me a bit, Jon. I would have expected a Brit to have as many unusual words for rain as an Eskimo has for snow. Instead you seem to use the same words the rest of us, drier ones have.
    I can only contribute a bit of focus on the wind factor from my experience of living in very windy places:
    –slashing rain
    –whipping rain– its next gradient is ‘ass-whipping rain’
    –oblique rain (as seen on the windowpanes in windy places)
    — and the most pathetic kind: incontinent rain–the pissy kind that stops and starts so that it is not worth closing your umbrella at all the false stops

  3. fool me once... July 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    I would have thought rain was a truly border-less non nationalistic phenomenon, although it can be seen to have a beneficial religious significance for some;
    “Oh, when the rain fall, fall, fall now, It don’t fall on one man’s housetop. Remember that: When the rain fall, It don’t fall on one man’s housetop.”

    • Jonathon Blakeley July 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

      I think the combination of a prevailing north-easterly and being surrounded by nearby coast makes England a rain magnet. As I say I think each place and its geography effect the rain in unique ways which i was trying to express.

  4. Laura Stuart July 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Hah ! I grew up near Borrowdale the wettest place in the U.K.

    Decades later the wellie marks on my legs have gone.

    What about these fashion wellies? Wellies used to be green and functional now they are a designer fashion statement pppfffttt!

  5. who_me July 15, 2012 at 3:23 am #

    this evening rode over to the supermarket to get some chicken liver for el gatos loco, and me nightly keg. within a couple blocks of getting on the bike, the first squall hit. took shelter, it lasted about 10 minutes. back on the road, went about a half mile and another squall started. repeat. got to the store, purchased the necessities and headed home. lightning, thunder and drizzle all the way home (probably a dozen strikes seen). as soon as i pulled into the yard, the sky opened up. perfect timing. 😀

    • Ariadna Theokopoulos July 15, 2012 at 3:29 am #

      Do you have a cat called El Gato Loco or more than one?

      • who_me July 15, 2012 at 3:47 am #

        more than one, it’s a description, rather than a name, hence, el gatos loco.

        back in the 70’s i did have a cat called gato, though. very original name, i know… 😀

  6. Ariadna Theokopoulos July 15, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    My Spanish is not great but if it’s more than one then it’s Los Gatos Locos, only one can be El Gato Loco
    I never had cats, only dogs. I think Jonathon has cats, you can exchange feline parental tips with him

    • who_me July 15, 2012 at 4:03 am #

      thanks, i don’t know spanish and just wing it. 🙂

      “feline parental tips”

      while humans can be parents of dogs (due to the social bonding hierarchy among canines), it usually works out the other way around with cats (especially big cats 😀 ).

      cats are a lot like women when it comes to “negotiation”. 😉

      • Ariadna Theokopoulos July 15, 2012 at 4:06 am #

        I am sorry about your sad experience with women 🙂