Thursday, September 28, 2006

inner dork: storm clouds

Did you know...

Storm clouds are dark because sunlight is scattered by the Earth's atmosphere unless the particles that make up the atmosphere get too big. If this happens it makes the visible light become reflected instead of scattered.
Water droplets that reach this size are seen as clouds. Thin clouds appear white because they still allow some of the solar light through. The thicker the cloud, the less light passes through, and the more of it is reflected. Very heavy storm clouds look black because no light is passing through them; it is all being reflected away from the cloud.

...that concludes today's lesson on weather..


puerileuwaite said...

I can honestly say that I've looked at clouds from both sides now. I really didn't know clouds at all.

So why does one always follow me?

Jay said...

Outer Dork: Let's talk a bit more about them clouds!

Clouds are classified into a system that uses Latin words to describe the appearance of clouds as seen by an observer on the ground:

Latin Root Translation

cumulus - heap
stratus - layer
cirrus - curl of hair
nimbus - rain

Further classification identifies clouds by height of cloud base;

High-Level Clouds:
High-level clouds form above 20,000 feet and since the temperatures are so cold at such high elevations, these clouds are primarily composed of ice crystals. High-level clouds are typically thin and white in appearance, but can appear in a magnificent array of colors when the sun is low on the horizon. Cloud types include: cirrus and cirrostratus.

Mid-Level Clouds:
The bases of mid-level clouds typically appear between 6,500 to 20,000 feet. Because of their lower altitudes, they are composed primarily of water droplets, however, they can also be composed of ice crystals when temperatures are cold enough. Cloud types include: altocumulus, altostratus.

Low-level Clouds:
Low clouds are of mostly composed of water droplets since their bases generally lie below 6,500 feet. However, when temperatures are cold enough, these clouds may also contain ice particles and snow. Cloud types include: nimbostratus and stratocumulus.

Vertically Developed Clouds:
Probably the most familiar of the classified clouds is the cumulus cloud. Generated most commonly through either thermal convection or frontal lifting, these clouds can grow to heights in excess of 39,000 feet, releasing incredible amounts of energy through the condensation of water vapor within the cloud itself. Cloud types include: fair weather cumulus and cumulonimbus.

I have a cousin who is an Air Force meteorologist and storm chases in his free time! (He spends 20 of his 30 days of leave a year in Oklahoma and Texas chasing tornados!) I've learned a lot about storms and weather in general over the last 17 years of his military career.

And to answer puerileuwaite's question: Because you're a Rain God, silly!

Party Girl said...

P: Because you're a little rain cloud??

Jay: I always feel some much more knowledgeable come Friday mornings!