What’s the Difference Between ‘Isolated’ and ‘Scattered’ Storms?

Originally published June 20, 2008 7:05 p.m.

With much needed rain in the forecast, some people want to know exactly how much rain we’re going to get.

A.E. from Richmond County wants to know if there is a difference between scattered and isolated thunderstorms.

[Related: What do You Think of When You See a Rainbow?]

Forecasters use the terms “isolated” and “scattered” all the time to describe the coverage and chance of rain showers or thunderstorms in our forecast area. Simply put, “isolated” means a low risk of showers and storms, while “scattered” means a low to moderate risk.

The term “isolated” is generally used when the chance of rain is less than about 30 percent, and also is used to convey that there will be very sporadic showers or storms, while “scattered” is used to convey a bit more rain or storm activity over our forecast area. So, a 50 percent chance of rain would be equal to saying scattered showers or thunderstorms.

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