Q:

How do clouds make rain?

A:

Precipitation occurs when moist air rises to cooler altitudes, condensing the water out of the air into droplets. Once these droplets become heavy enough, often by coalescing around motes of dust or other particles, they fall out of the cloud as precipitation. Without significant updrafts bringing more moisture to the cloud layer, the condensed water may remain light enough to stay aloft, which is why not every cloud brings rain.

Rain clouds may form in a variety of meteorological conditions. Commonly, they occur across frontal boundaries, where a mass of warm air is forced upward by a cold front, pushing a large amount of moisture into the upper atmosphere. This is the cause of long, soaking rains due to the sheer amount of condensation produced by the updrafts. Air masses may also be pushed upward by topographic features like mountains, producing rain on the lee side of these geologic features.

Another type of rain is produced when the sun's heating creates a convective current in the atmosphere. This energy heats the air near the ground, causing it and its moisture to rise in a relatively small area. This pattern tends to create small, isolated showers that can be extremely vigorous but may not move quickly, a common weather pattern in the summer months.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    How clouds are made?

    A:

    Clouds form when warm, moist air rises into the upper atmosphere, where the cooler temperatures cause the water to condense. Depending on the altitude, clouds may be made up of water droplets or ice crystals, and these often form around floating motes of dust or other particles. When too much moisture condenses, the droplets or crystals become too heavy to stay aloft, falling as snow or rain.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • 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.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why are rain clouds black?

    A:

    Rain clouds turn gray or black because thick clouds saturated with rain drops scatter sunlight coming through the clouds. When less direct sunlight gets to the bottom of clouds, they appear darker to the human eye. Thin clouds that do not contain a lot of moisture allow enough sunlight through them so that they appear white to observers.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • 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.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore