Q:

How can cumulonimbus clouds produce rain and hail?

A:

Cumulonimbus clouds, also known as thunderheads, release hail and rain in conjunction with updrafts. Ice crystals ride such updrafts into the air and then fall through the clouds, collecting water droplets as they drop. Once water droplets freeze onto ice crystals, hailstones are created. Cumulonimbus clouds release rain when they have reached their moisture saturation point.

According to Universe Today, cumulonimbus clouds form rain in the same way that other clouds do. They are essentially masses of condensed water floating in the sky that eventually become so saturated with vapor that they begin to release moisture, which falls to the ground. Cumulonimbus clouds are associated with heavy precipitation and thunderstorms. These clouds tend to form below 20,000 feet and produce lightning by bumping up against each other and creating static charges through ionized water droplets. Not only do cumulonimbus clouds produce typical rain and hail, they sometimes cause flash flooding. However despite the heavy precipitation these clouds generate, such downpours tend to last for only roughly 20 minutes.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research reports that cumulonimbus clouds obtain their impressive energy from updrafts and downdrafts, which are essentially vertical winds capable of reaching speeds of 110 miles per hour. These same updrafts are responsible for forming hailstones within the clouds.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do cumulonimbus clouds form?

    A:

    Cumulonimbus clouds form when warm, moisture-laden air travels upward and is cooled, condensing into a tall body of water droplets. Cumulonimbus clouds can reach up to 10 kilometers in height and take on a flat-topped appearance due to the strong winds at high altitudes. Cumulonimbus clouds are both tall, like regular cumulus clouds, and produce precipitation like other nimbus clouds.

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  • Q:

    Why do clouds form?

    A:

    According to Met Office, clouds form when water vapor in the air condenses into tiny drops of water or ice crystals that then settle on dust particles in the atmosphere. Condensation happens when the air is saturated and cannot hold any more water vapor; this can occur when the amount of water in the air increases or when the air is cooled to its dew point.

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    What are upwardly billowing clouds?

    A:

    Clouds that develop vertically are called cumulus clouds. If these clouds produce a thunderstorm, they are called cumulonimbus. Cumulonimbus clouds are much larger and more vertically developed cumulus clouds, with the tops reaching 39,000 feet or higher.

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    What cloud indicates the top of the troposphere?

    A:

    Cumulonimbus clouds are the tallest clouds in the sky, reaching well into the troposphere. Although the bottom of a cumulonimbus cloud contains water, the top of the cloud reaches so high that it contains ice crystals.

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