Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by sue from kaycee, WY. sue Wonders, “What determines when a cloud will release rain?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, sue!

Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day.” 

Sometimes we get sad when it rains because we can't go outside and play. But did you know that rain is really important? It helps the Earth by giving water to our plants so they can grow. Without rain, our world would be very dry.

When you see clouds on a sunny day, it might mean that rain is coming soon. But clouds don't “hold” water like a bucket. 

Did you know the air around us has water in it? Water comes in three forms: liquid (that you drink), solid (ice), and gas (water vapor in the air).

When water vapor gets cooler, it turns into tiny droplets that we can see as a cloud. It takes millions, billions, or even trillions of droplets to make a cloud. This process is called condensation.

If those droplets get big enough and heavy enough, they will fall to the ground as rain. This is called precipitation.

Cloud droplets are very small and light, so they don't fall right away. They float with the wind or just hang in the air. When they are grouped together, these are the clouds we see in the sky! Updrafts, winds that blow upward from the surface of the Earth, also help keep droplets in cloud form.

These droplets have to join together or get heavier from more water condensing in the air before they can fall as rain. Once it starts raining, it will keep raining if the conditions in the air are right. Condensation and precipitation are part of the water cycle.

Scientists say that one inch of rain over one square mile is like 17.4 million gallons of water. That's a lot of water, and it would weigh as much as 143 million pounds!

Have you ever watched the clouds in the sky? Take a minute to see how they move and look at the shapes you see with different kinds of weather. Maybe you’ll even find a cloud with a fun shape!

Wonder What's Next?

Grab a vine and swing on over to Wonderopolis tomorrow.  Just be sure the vine doesn't bite!