Cloud is a mass of minute droplets of water or tiny crystals of ice formed by the condensation of water vapour in free air at considerable elevations. Clouds are formed mainly by the adiabatic cooling of air below its dew point. Clouds are found upto the height of 12,000 metres.
Look up into the sky on most days and you may see clouds. Clouds are made when air is cooled to a temperature where water in the air becomes visible. This temperature is called the dew point. Dust is also needed to form clouds.
The water condenses on the tiny specs; just like the mist in your bathroom condenses on your shower curtain. As you go higher in the atmosphere, the cooler the temperature gets. Sometimes clouds are formed because moist air is forced upward over mountains.
Scientists who study weather are called meteorologists. They look at the temperature, air pressure, winds and clouds and tell us whether to expect rain or cold air. Meteorologists have names for different kinds of clouds. These names describe what the cloud looks like and how far above the ground the cloud is.
Cumulus Clouds :
Big fluffy clouds are called cumulus and they can be in any part of the atmosphere. Special cumulus clouds which bring thunderstorms are called cumulonimbus. Cumulonimbus clouds are dark because their bases are low, but their tops can reach high up into the atmosphere. Rain can form in any part of a cumulonimbus cloud. Rain which does not reach the ground is called virga.
Stratus Clouds :
Clouds that are flat and look like blankets in the sky are called stratus. Rain can also fall from stratus clouds. If rain is a steady drizzle which lasts for a while, it most likely comes from stratus clouds. Stratus Clouds look like a blanket.
Thin, wispy clouds are called cirrus and are usually high up in the atmosphere. They are made of ice crystals since the higher air is colder. There is not enough moisture in cirrus clouds to cause rain. You cannot have rain without clouds, and you cannot have rainbows without them either.
Precipitation in the form of rain or snow occurs when particles of water or ice are large enough to reach the ground. The chief difference between a cloud drop and a rain drop is size. A typical rain drop has a volume that is more than a million times that of a cloud drop. Thus it takes many cloud droplets to make up a single raindrop. When our atmosphere gets polluted we are susceptible to acid rain.
Snow has a chemical composition of water ( H20 ) Snow is basically made up of crystals of frozen water ( ICE ) Snow is ice crystals and ice crystals have six points. However, one snowflake can consist of multiple crystals. Temperatures must be below freezing ( 0 Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit ) for snow to form. Snow continues to challenge weather experts. It is still very difficult to predict and is surprisingly hard to measure once it has fallen.
Snow Rollers :
Snow rollers, are snow balls formed naturally by strong winds blowing across a flat, snow covered field. Three conditions have to occur for Snow rollers to occur: The ground must be icy or be covered with a snow crust. Winds must be strong and gusty. A wet snowfall of at least a couple of inches. Once a snow roller is formed the wind gets it to roll, collecting snow as it moves, in some cases even creating tracks of bare ground. The appearance of a snow roller resembles a scaled down version of those large rolled hay bails, only made of snow.
Rainbows are caused by sunlight passing through very small water drops. This is why you can make your own mini-rainbow with a garden hose if it has a fine spray.
Fire Rainbows :
The clouds needed for these rare events have to be cirrus and at least 20,000 feet in the air, with just the right amount of ice crystals. The sun also has to hit the clouds at precisely 58 degrees.
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