Weather Study Guide: Clouds and rain

Storm clouds are seen from North Fond du Lac, June 24, 2014. (Submitted by Jenny Wirkus)

For an illustrated printable PDF of this study guide, click here.

Clouds are made up of tiny water droplets or ice crystals. They don’t weigh much, so they can float in the air.

When warm air rises, the water vapor cools, condenses and changes into tiny water droplets. The droplets stick to tiny pieces of dust floating through the air. Billions of these tiny droplets together form a visible cloud.

Here are some types of clouds. Have you seen them?

Cirrus
Altocumulus
Stratus
Nimbostratus
Cumulus
Contrails

After a while, the water droplets get too heavy to continue to float in the air, so they fall due to gravity. That’s when we get rain. Raindrops fall between 7 - 18 miles per hour, and that’s without the wind!

Raindrops are smaller than you think! They’re only 1/100 inch to 1/4 inch in diameter.

Wettest spot on Earth: Khasi Hills, India (more than 460” precipitation each year)

Driest spot on Earth: Dry Valleys, Antarctica (less than 0.1” precipitation each year)

Wisconsin averages about 32” of precipitation each year.

More cloud pictures can be viewed here:
https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=51647007%40N08&view_all=1&text=clouds

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