Breakdown: Why mist and drizzle differ

Why mist and drizzle differ

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mist and drizzle -- those must be the same thing, right? Well in reality they do differ but there are only a few slight differences.

In this episode of the breakdown, we will describe the difference between the two forms of droplets and explain how to tell the difference between them.

Mist is composed of very tiny droplets of water, so tiny they seem to be suspended in the atmosphere. Mist reduces visibility but not as much as fog, which it closely resembles.

When mist occurs, visibility decreases to one-half mile or more, whereas fog can reduce visibility at greater distances. Mist droplets are 10 to 15 microns in diameter. One micron is only 1/1000 of a millimeter.

Fog and mist are not actually considered forms of precipitation as they stay suspended in the air. On the flip side, drizzle is a uniform precipitation that is composed of small water drops that fall to the ground.

The big difference between the two are the size of the water droplets.

In fact, drizzle contains droplets that are around 0.5 mm or smaller. There are even levels of drizzle:

  • light drizzle (visibility is about one-half mile)
  • medium drizzle (visibility is less than one-half a mile)
  • heavy drizzle (visibility is less than one-fourth mile)

In comparison a rain droplet is around 0.1 to 5 mm in diameter, that means that while rain makes a splash when it hits the ground, drizzle more than likely won’t.

Next time you are out and about and drops of water hit you or your car windshield, you can determine the difference between mist, drizzle, rain and fog.

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