As I write this, I am in beautiful San Diego, and when you think of California, you probably think of the hot sun. As I bask in the heat, I can't help but contrast it with the cold of home. And when I say cold, I mean rain. It rains so much in Washington State that we have more than a few terms for it. Yet, they just have one here in California... Rain. So, without further ado, here are the 10 most popular terms we use for rain in the PNW:
Now, you wouldn't think to use this one for rain, but we Pacific Northwesterners think of just that. To be overcast means the rain may or may not show up; Washington weather is fickle. In the morning it could be pouring down rain, but by the afternoon the sky could be clear and the sun could be out. Five minutes later, the sky is overcast again. It's always an adventure, I say.
Now let me explain to those not from the PNW: mist feels like hardly anything. You feel a slight breeze that barely wets your skin, but it's so immensely different from our downpours that it needs its own term.
The water is picking up a bit now, and tiny little drops fall on your head. It may mess up your hair a bit, but it doesn't do too much damage.
You can really feel the water now. The drops are slightly larger, but you still don't need to put up your hood up quite yet. If you see someone wearing a hood while it's sprinkling, they aren't from here.
Now here is where we get to the point most people think about (except Californians, but I'll get to that). The water drops are a nice medium size. Put your hood on when the rain is at this stage, but don't open umbrellas. Umbrellas are another tell-tale sign you aren't from here.
This means the water drops are a larger size, falling pretty quickly and there are a lot of them, like the stream of water when you take a shower. Hood up or not, you are getting wet. Umbrellas are encouraged at this point.
The water drops are the same size as showers, but they come down much faster. If you're outside, get inside quickly, unless being soaked all day is something you are into.
This term isn't as common in the PNW, but it can still apply. When the winds are blowing while it's raining, we call it a monsoon. We can thank the many Native Americans who live here for that term.
9. Torrential downpour.
If it is a torrential downpour, just stay at home. If you must go out, don't do your hair or makeup, and wear a hat; you're bound to get soaked to the bone. This amount of rain is what Californians call rain.
We use this term when it's raining so hard it is literally flooding. You may think this is an exaggeration, but it's not. We're in Washington.
So there you have it. Ten terms for the crazy PNW weather, because "rain" just doesn't cut it.