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How do Pittsburghers perceive the patter of rain?
By Anne Victoria Nasevich

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How you perceive the sounds of rain might depend on where you live. Nevadans might greet rain with excitement since it’s only a seasonal event. For those living near the coast, rain might seem threatening with the risk of flooding. Since rain is so common in Pittsburgh, with an average of 151 days of precipitation annually, we may take it for granted and not be attuned to the ways we feel when hearing the patter of rain.

 

Research suggests that humans have a wide range of emotional responses to rain, and no two responses seem to be alike. A study from 2011 concluded that rain sounds assist relaxation and sleep. By contrast, psychotherapist Tina Tessina claims that rain compels people to feel anger, dreariness, coldness, and sadness. Furthermore, a psychology study from 2019 asserts that rain sounds can be a source of happiness and joy.

Some Pittsburghers may feel concern when they hear rain due to the threat of flooding, since 21.1% of Pittsburgh properties are at risk for flooding. Some may associate rain with seasonal blues because it limits their sun exposure. According to UPMC psychiatrist Dr. Lawson Bernstein, the incidence of seasonal affective disorders in Pittsburgh is among the highest in the country. Is it possible that some Pittsburghers have positive responses to rain sounds?

 

Frankie Mae Pace Park is a space that was built with rain in mind, and embraces precipitation. Notice the way the drainage system is artistically incorporated into this elevated park. A spiral drain is playful and whimsical, and the decorative metal plates look like droplets that form into streams. Rainwater is also incorporated into the park infrastructure, suggesting that rain is an essential and welcome part of the ecosystem. The stormwater is directed to the flower beds and trees. Describing the park’s drainage system, the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh explained that the trees not only purify the water even further, but the roots direct the water flow to lessen the risk of flooding.

The design of Frankie Pace Park reflects the frequency of rainfall in Pittsburgh every year. Rain sounds can evoke a broad range of feelings in different people. Listen to this audio clip of rainfall and consider: how do you respond to the sounds of rain?

Image Credit: Nicole Vilkner

Pittsburgh Rain
00:00 / 00:09

Sound clip created by Anne Victoria Nasevich

How do you respond to sounds of rain?
Select all that apply:

SOURCES

 

Batroney, Tom. “Creating a Stormwater Park over an Interstate: Restoring Community...” Access Water. Accessed 28 April 2024.

Frankie Pace Park (I-579 CAP Urban Connector Project).” Pittsburgh Sea, 2019. Accessed 28 April 2024. 

Infrastructure Solutions: I-579 Cap ‘Frankie Pace Park.’” S&B USA. Accessed 28 April 2024.


Jonauskaite, Domicele, K. Dijkstra, N.A. Jalil, F.M. Adams, K.A. Barchard, E. Burkitt, R.H.B. Christensen, et al. “The Sun Is No Fun without Rain: Physical Environments Affect How We Feel about Yellow across 55 Countries.” Journal of Environmental Psychology (19 September 2019): 1–7.

Patterson, Erin Carole. The effect of lullaby music versus rain sounds on inducing sleep in the first 20 minutes of daycare naptime. Florida State University, Master of Music thesis, 2011.

Tessina, Tina B. “Emotions as Weather,” TinaTessina.com, 2017. Accessed 1 May 2024

Pittsburgh, PA Flood Map and Climate Risk Report.” RiskFactor.com. Accessed 30 April 2024.

Korhonen, Veera. “Major U.S. Cities with the Most Rainy Days 1981-2010.” Statista. December 31, 2011. Accessed 1 May 2024.

Prevalence of Seasonal Depression High in Western Pennsylvania, UPMC Psychiatrist Says.” CBS News, January 29, 2021. Accessed 1 May 2024.

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