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What does 'rain chances' actually mean?

Chances are, there may be some confusion when it comes to understanding that little percentage on your weather app.

TYLER, Texas — A viral Tik Tok video has many folks asking, "what does that percentage I see on the forecast really mean?"

'PoP' is an acronym that stands for probability of precipitation, which seems self-explanatory. But, as the Tik Tok video highlighted, there are some misunderstandings. Let us look at the equation.  

"C" is a meteorologist's confidence that a measurable amount of rain will occur in their forecast area. Then they multiply that by ‘A’ which is the percent of the region likely to see rain. 

So, if CBS19 Meteorologist Colleen Campbell was 100% confident that it was going to rain over 60% of the viewing area, then our probability would be 60% with widespread rain.

But to be 100% confident in science doesn’t always happen and that’s what forecasting is – a science.

Say Colleen was only 50% confident it will rain over 40% of the area, that will drop our probability of precipitation to 20% which would be more isolated showers.

What PoPs do not tell you, is how long the rain will last or how intense it could be. That is why it is always important to check in with the CBS19 weather team. 

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