In lieu of an April Fools Post, I figured I’d do something different.
I grew up in all manner of wet conditions. I’ve camped out in pretty much every kind of rain available on the planet, and I’ve seen the rest almost year-round most of my life. In fact, I used to actually be afraid of rain after spending a week soaked to the bone and covered in mud (I wasn’t even a teen yet). So, naturally, I put my mind to classifying the various aspects of rain.
Use this handy guide this April – March winds bring April showers, after all.
The first classification for rainy conditions is visibility. If a clear day has unlimited visibility, rain cuts the visibility down to as little as one foot.
Every rain has its own particular rhythm. Misty rains have no sound, which is its own particular rhythm. Hurricane rains roar with a rhythm too high frequency to easily identify. All the rest patter at a frequency that can be used to gauge just how unpleasant it will be out there.
Every rain has its own size drops. You can have roaring rains with very small drops and light rains where each drop could fill a teaspoon easily.
Rain can build from a misty drizzle into a full storm, or it can come in sheets. Usually sheet rain comes in places like mountains, and you can watch it bear down on you while you stand by helplessly, stranded without shelter in the open.
Rains can last for seconds or entire weeks, in my experience. Frankly, the longer they last, the less pleasant they tend to be.
Finally, a rain can be warm or cool. Cool rains are pleasant during a warm day, and warm rains are preferable on a cool day.
Here’s how you can use these metrics to gauge your rain
Example 1: The Trauma
The rain that made me fear rain was a 25 foot visibility, 480 bpm, warm rain with medium-sized drops. It came on slowly and lasted almost a whole week, and by the end of the first day we had mud halfway up our shins. It was easily the least pleasant rain I have ever encountered.
Example 2: Marco Polo
On an otherwise pleasant hike, my friends and I were caught in a 1 foot visibility, 200 bpm, cool rain with small drops. It lasted two hours, but we spent thirty minutes of that covering the last 200 yards back to our base camp. Because up until the rain we had unlimited visibility (we only got maybe 15 seconds of warning before the wall hit us), we were up to twenty feet apart from each other and lost all bearings. Luckily, the guy with the map and compass was a fan of Marco Polo – we found each other and made our way home safely.
Example 3: A Standard Storm
Most of the rain I’ve dealt with comes on slowly over about five minutes – I can actually feel them coming on almost half an hour in advance due to sheer conditioning.
Your standard storm has about a 50 foot visibility range and a rhythm ranging between 120 and 240 bpm. As a rule, these storms have medium-sized drops and the water is within a few degrees of the surrounding temperature. Depending on where you live, these storms will have a pretty standardized duration, usually between 30 minutes and four hours.
Stay dry, my friends.
(And April Fools)