Wednesday, November 08, 2006

English Needs Rain Words

For those of you living in the NW, you may agree that over the last weekend we only needed one word for "rain:" deluge. For those of you who don't live in the NW, we got about five inches of rain in two days (Sunday and Monday), and in some places as much as two feet since Thursday. The storm sewers in Portland flooded. The Wilson River (don't worry - I didn't know where that was either) flooded its banks and flowed down the Northward lanes of highway 101 through Tillamook. They had to completely shut down Highway 6, forcing people trying to get to Tillamook to take Highway 26 all the way to Seaside and then 101 to Tillamook. Which they could do because the Wilson River had only taken out the northbound lanes. The ocean eroded 30 feet of cliffside in two days. That is some serious rain.

But since Monday, at least in Portland, we've really been back to our normal rainy weather, which has once again brought to my attention the paucity of the English language for discussing rain. And we need better definitions for the words we do have. So I invite everyone to submit different rain words and help codify definitions for the ones we already have. I'll offer up some suggestions, but feel free to disagree.

Mist - like fog, but more "granular." You will get damp, but you won't know it's happening.
Misting - the act of raining via a mist.
Sprinkle - you can see the rain, but it's very sporadic, small drops.
Light Shower - consistent rain fall, small drops, "casually" falling - note: does not necessarily imply a large quantity of rainfall
Shower - consistent rain fall, medium drops, forcefully falling - note: does not necessarily imply a large quantity of rainfall
Heavy Shower - consistent, heavy rain fall, medium-large drops, being launched at the ground
Downpour - brief Heavy Shower
Deluge - days of heavy rain - note: implies a very large quantity of rainfall
Invisible Rain - you look out the window, you can't see it, but when you go outside, you can feel it
Crazy Rain - when the wind is blowing in all directions at once (and yet somehow also in no particular direction) and it picks up "patches" of rain and launches them at you, hitting you in random places on your body, making it impossible to stay dry or to predict what to cover in gortex.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've taken to using the term "ambient moisture" to describe it when it's not actually raining, but things seem to get mysteriously wet anyhow when placed outside. I also think we need a term for when you're driving on the highway and it's not raining, but there are so many cars and trucks kicking up water that you need to turn on your wipers and it seems like it's raing. I'm thinkng "road rain," but that might be a bit too obvious.
There's also the rain that stops and starts every couple of minutes, going very hard and then very soft. I think that saying "It's really Smashing Pumpkins out there" would be a great term for this, given their predilection for quiet/loud juxtaposition.