Why Does It Rain?

Why does it rain? You may have read the page where I explain how clouds form.

If you have not already, please read it first (click on the NavBar button labeled "How Wx Works" on the left hand side of this page), then come back here.

But, for more insight into how weather works, I highly recommend Meteorology: An Introduction to the Wonders of the Weather!

Why read about cloud dynamics first? Because the processes and conditions necessary to form clouds must also be present to form rain drops.

In fact these conditions must prevail long enough!

That is the reason why, to understand how rain happens, you must first understand how clouds form.

As Simple As 1-2-3!

  1. To put it simply, the water droplets that are kept in suspension within clouds by the updrafts, collide and merge with their neighbors are they are being tossed about.

  2. Eventually, if the rising currents persist long enough, the water droplets become too heavy to be kept in suspension within the mother rain clouds.

  3. When that happens, the drops fall to the earth ... and it rains!

By the way, when rain falls on frozen ground and objects, an ice layer will form. The rain is then called freezing rain!

Rain VS Rain Showers

The difference between showers and long periods of rain is in the character of the precipitation.

  • Showers start and stop suddenly, last for a short time (a few minutes up to maybe 15 or so) and are localized.

  • Steady rain, on the other hand, will begin slowly and usually last for hours ... as long as the lifting process (frontal or orographic) lasts. Rain usually covers a large region.

Rain showers are the product of convective type clouds such as cumulus, towering cumulus and cumulonimbus.

Rain, on the other hand, is produced by stratus type clouds nimbostratus and altostratus.

So then. Why does it rain? You should be able to answer now!

Raining Knowledge

I use Site Build It! to share my knowledge of meteorology with you and thousands every day.

Do you have knowledge to share? Sure you do. Everyone acquires knowledge and know-how through work or other life experiences.

Do like I do. Share yours. It's rewarding in more ways than one, believe me!

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