Magazine article Geographical

Weatherwatch with Helen Willetts: April What's the Difference between Rain and Showers? and What Does It Have to Do with the Simpsons and Cheesemaking? BBC Meteorologist Helen Willetts Reveals All in Her Monthly Column

Magazine article Geographical

Weatherwatch with Helen Willetts: April What's the Difference between Rain and Showers? and What Does It Have to Do with the Simpsons and Cheesemaking? BBC Meteorologist Helen Willetts Reveals All in Her Monthly Column

Article excerpt

If you've heard the saying "April showers bring May flowers", you might think that April is a wet month. but the showers actually refer to the type of rain, not the amount. In fact. April is one of the UK's driest months--in London. for example, the average rainfall for April is only 37 millimetres.

So why do we associate April with showers? Well, during spring, the jet stream--strong winds in the upper atmosphere that drive low-pressure systems in from the Atlantic--heads northwards. This means that our low-pressure systems and their frontal rain tend to be carried further north across Scotland Iceland and Scandinavia. This often leaves low pressure sitting north of our shores, but still influencing our weather. Low pressure means an unstable atmosphere, which leads to showers.

As we approach the summer months, the let stream continues northwards, allowing the Azores High--a high-pressure system that normally sits over the Azores in the mid-Atlantic--to spread its influence towards the UK reducing the chance of showers.

And what's the difference between rain and showers--both get us wet don't they?

Rain comes from so-called stratiform cloud, usually on a weather front, when there is a mass ascent of air. …

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