A cloud is a mass of tiny water droplets or ice crystals that float in the air.
Clouds look fluffy and light but the truth is the amount of water that makes up one cloud can weigh more then an airplane!
The tree main types of clouds are: Cumulus, Stratus and Cirrus clouds.
The word cumulus means a pile or heap.
Cumulus clouds look like white puffy balls of cotton.
Cumulus clouds are usually less than 6.5000 feet above the Earth.
The word stratus means a layer.
Stratus clouds spread across the sky and look like blankets. They can be gray.
Stratus clouds that are higher in the sky are called Altostratus Clouds.
The word cirrus means a curl or ringlet in someone’s hair.
Cirrus clouds look like white smoke.
Cirrus clouds are more than 20,000 feet above the Earth.
It is so cold where cirrus clouds form that they are made of only ice crystals.
When you see white cirrus clouds there will be no rain or snow.
When cirrus clouds bunch together with other cirrus clouds and turn gray they form cirrostratus clouds. It means it will rain or snow within 24 hours.
The water that makes up a cloud comes from the ocean, ponds, puddles, rivers, lakes, streams and more.
The water on Earth heats up from the sun’s rays. The heat changes the water into a gas called water vapor.
High in the sky above the earth the air is cold. When the water vapor rises the cold air makes the water vapor get cool.
As the water vapor cools it changes into tiny water droplets. The droplets stick to tiny pieces of dust floating through the air.
Billions of those tiny droplets together form clouds.
In each cloud tiny water droplets join together with other water droplets already in the clouds. When those droplets get too heavy they fall from the sky as raindrops.
If the air is cold the eater droplets freeze and become ice crystals. When a bunch of ice crystals stick together they form a snowflake.
Why are cloud white? Clouds look white because they reflect light form the sun.
Did you know that the sun’s light is really made up of all the colors in the rainbow? Its true. When you all the colors are mixed together they give off what’s called white light.
So why do clouds sometimes look gray? When billions of water droplets form the clouds gets very thick. The sun’s light cannot shine though so the clouds look gray. Soon the droplets in the clouds will get too big and fall from the cloud as rain. That’s why we know when clouds are gray it’s going to rain soon.
Did you know that fog is a type of cloud? Fog is a cloud that is close to the ground.
Fogs forms when moist air close to the ground is cool.
Walking through fog is like walking trough a cloud.
Try these experiments at home
Water Vapor Experiment
Above it says that clouds are formed from water vapor. The water comes from the Earths oceans, ponds, lakes, puddles etc… Take a plastic cup and fill it with water. Use a marker to mark the water level. Place the cup in a window that gets lots of sun. Each day watch the cup and mark the water line. Watch what happens to the water. You will notice the the water level will get lower and lower. Why? Because the sun turn the water into water vapor and it floats up into the sky.