An old-fashioned ‘streaming’

CREDIT: Ave Calvar Martinez on

You may have heard me mention the word “drizzerable” on TV before and, well, it’s a pretty good explainer word I made up to talk about a drizzly, murky day (although we’ll take it at this point!). Two decades ago, Meteorologist Chuck George came up with “snizzle” describing a light snowy/rainy event. And you’ve probably heard us all refer to “Streamer showers” which are much like they sound--thin lines of showers streaming in off the Gulf along a southeast to northwest wind. They usually persist for a few hours. I’ve drawn red arrows on the radar sample below:

CREDIT: National Weather Service Brownsville

So I was not completely surprised that the National Weather Service in Brownsville is studying these type of showers but what’s interesting is that “Streamer Showers” is a totally made up term to describe this phenomenon! The American Meteorological Society has no definition while a Google search will get you a meteorologist’s description:

These showers are called streamer showers, which is very light rain that doesn’t get much development and usually dissipates within a few hours, said Clay Anderson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

No one seems to be quite sure exactly who originated this description, but it’s become part of the lexicon. So the authors of the Brownsville study looked at just how often and what time of year the term “streamer showers” shows up in National Weather Service Area Forecast Discussions. These come out morning and afternoon as a full forecast from the different area weather offices. You can see from their chart that these are mostly a Late spring and early fall event:

CREDIT: NWS Brownsville

The study is not conclusive but ends with both a definition of streamer showers and reasons to continue studying them, primarily because they are not easy to forecast and the more we know about them, the better we’ll be at predicting them!

You can see the 9-slide presentation right here from National Weather Service Meteorologists Joshua J. Schroeder, Rick Hallman, and Jason M. Straub. While some of the language is a bit scientific, it’s a pretty user-friendly explainer.

Here’s another little secret: there’s actually no such thing as a “cool” front. Fronts are either cold, warm, stationary or occluded. Not cool. But let’s face it--our first few fall fronts can struggle to drop the temperatures very much and are more “cool” than “cold”. So I like the term because it communicates!

Fingers crossed for a drizzerable day!


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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with four decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.