Difference Between Rain and Drizzle

Rain vs Drizzle

What is it that comes to your mind when someone says rain? Mostly it is the image of heavy precipitation where it rains steadily. But when you hear the word drizzle, you know instantly that it is not raining heavily, and it is only a mist. However, the difference between rain and drizzle is not just about the size of droplets of water and there are other differences also that will be talked about in this article.

Drizzle is also a form of precipitation as water falls down to earth from above in much the same way as in rain. However, there are differences pertaining to the size of the droplets, the visibility of these droplets, and the rate or the speed at which these droplets hit the earth. In short, drizzle is when it is raining much more gently and at a uniform pace.


Drizzle is also referred to as mist and it falls from nimbo-stratus clouds. The size of the droplets is less than ½ a millimeter and the rate of rainfall is less than 0.03” per hour. Talking of rain, the size of the droplets is more than ½ mm in diameter and the rate of fall is more than 0.04” per hour. Stratus clouds are very thin or flat and have upward moving air currents. This leaves little time for the droplets to grow in size and become heavy for these upwards air currents. Tiny droplets start to fall close together, sometimes appearing to be floating on air.


In the case of rain, droplets get the time to grow big, and they fall wide apart. The droplets are able to grow because the upward moving air currents are fast and support the weight of the drops. Droplets even combine together to become larger and heavier and they can become as large as 0.25 inches in diameter before hitting the ground. One can judge the intensity of rain by making estimation visually rather than having to get the information in terms of rate of fall of precipitation.

What is the difference between Rain and Drizzle?

• Both rain and drizzle are forms of precipitation.

• Rain is heavier and faster while drizzle is lighter and gentler.

• The size of rain drops is much bigger than the size of droplets in the case of drizzle.

• Air currents inside clouds in the case of drizzle are moving upwards slower than in the case of rain clouds. This does not allow droplets to grow big before they start to fall.

• If the size of the droplet is less than ½ of a millimeter in diameter, it is considered drizzle but it becomes rain once it crosses the size of ½ mm.