www.whyville.net Mar 2, 2009 Weekly Issue

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Have you ever laid down on the grass and gazed at a large, puffy cloud that looks like an ice cream cone on a hot summer day? Or, maybe you saw a ship sailing across the sea. Perhaps one that was shaped like a cake? Yum! Well, how do these large, white things appear in the sky? And I doubt that you knew that an average-sized cloud could weigh as much as one thousand tons! Can you believe that? It's hard for even me to believe.

Let's get back to how clouds are made. The 'recipe', as some people call it, is simply water, rising air, and dust. When it's hot and sticky out means that the air is humid, and the hot air has a lot of water molecules in it. You see, hot air can hold more moisture in it than cold air. That is why you get chapped lips when it's cold, dry air. Also, hot air rises, so obviously that is the rising air used to make clouds. As humid air rises, it cools down and becomes cooler air, and it condenses. Condensing means that water droplets form in the air. When you wake up in the early morning and it was cold last night, you will find dew because the surface that the dew condensed onto was warmer, but became colder throughout the night.

But, of course, what would the water condense onto? That's right, the dust! Dust is every where. Tiny little water droplets, kazillions of them, onto each particle of dust. By that time, the hot air has risen high up into the air, and it appears as a cloud!

There are many different types of clouds. Cumulus is one of the most common clouds. Those are the big, fluffy ones that appear in many sizes, and are the best for looking up at them, watching them change as the wind blows through. The word "cumulus" means "heap", and that's what they are, a big heap of cloud! Cumulus clouds seem to grow in an upward direction because they form when hot air rises vertically. They can be also made by solar heating(warm pockets of air over hot surfaces pushed up by cooler air or by rapid rising of warm air during a cold front). Cumulus clouds range in from the tiny, fluffy heaps on a nice day, or the gigantic storm clouds called cumulonimbus.

Stratus means "layer", and that is exactly what the stratus clouds are. They are low-laying clouds that seem to blanket onto each other, and they also block the sun from view. They spread out over a wide area, and they do not pile like cumulus clouds! When warm air hovers lowly across the earth and is pushed to rise slowly at a slant creates stratus clouds. They are usually gray and never really white because they produce rain and are not signs of very good weather.

There are several other kinds of clouds, and here are a lot of them.

They are high, small puffy clouds that are blown by the wind into bands and rows. If you see them, fair or rainy weather might me coming!

A thin sheet of cloud and it looks like a haze that conceals the sky's bright blue color. Wet weather along the way!

Pretty much the same as cirrostratus clouds but thicker and they are lower than cirrostratus, about medium height. It's going to be a dim day because it makes the sun very dull-looking when it covers it and only a small amount of rays peek through. It may turn into nimbostratus.

These are giant rain clouds. Super tall, and it's the biggest cloud ever! It's so big that you can't even see all of it when you look up into the sky! It is a deep, dark gray at the bottom but if you looking from afar it looks a pleasant white. It brings extremely heavy rain, hurricanes, hail or even tornadoes!

These are the very low, gray clouds that give a bit of a drizzle.

These clouds look like feathers very high in the sky. They are wispy and delicate, signs of great weather.

These are large groups that cover the sky. They look patchy, and are a lot like cirrocumulus but for the fact that they are at medium height and they will some times bring rain.

Dark gray clouds that look like stratus but much thicker and they bring heavy rain for long periods of time.

Small, puffy clouds that are best for looking at and making shapes out of them. Signs of good weather coming along.

Huge amounts of cumulus clouds that are bunched together into a thick layer. Heavy rain coming along!

Ground-level cloud. Most of you have seen it! It's a white-ish color.

I hope that we have all learned things! And, no, clouds are not water vapor because water vapor is an invisible gas. The "steam" that comes up from your tea pot are tiny water droplets carried by hot air. Steam is invisible, also! I had a very fun time writing this article, and I appreciate everyone reading this! TTFN(Ta Ta For Now)!


Author's Note: Source: http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/cld/cldtyp/home.rxml


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