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Weather experiment learning about clouds and rain

Posted at 6:10 AM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 12:52:11-04

GRAND RAPIDS — Rain is in the forecast for this upcoming weekend, but did you ever wonder how it rains out of a cloud??

n this experiment we will learn how clouds are formed and make it rain!

What you will need:
-food coloring
-bottle of shaving cream
-glass or plastic wide container

To start off you want to question what is a cloud made out of?

It's made out of water in the liquid and/or solid state depending on the temperatures in the atmosphere. Clouds all start off as water vapor, which is the third state of water. The warm, moist water vapor rises through the sky and at some point the temperatures gets so cold that it switches from the gas state of water to the liquid and/or solid state of water. This process is what we call condensing or forming of the cloud.

Now that we have an understanding of clouds we can start are experiment!

Step 1:
Fill the container ¾ of the way with water representing the general air the atmosphere

Step 2:
Spray a thin layer of shaving cream on top of the water representing the cloud

Why flat bottom? Now, as you look at the cloud, it's forming an even base or an even floor at the bottom of the cloud. This is the point where the water started to condense or where the air gets saturated and forms a cloud. Clouds can't go any lower: it all starts at the same level and builds up. Where this all begins is connected with the temperature and moisture content in the atmosphere on a given day, which changes every day. Thunderstorms clouds are typically taller because they have so much moisture and energy building vertically.

Step 3: Food coloring
1. Add just a couple of drops to get started and notice how nothing happens. This shows us a cloud can hold rain without the rain actually falling. But at a point the rain is too heavy and drops out of the cloud.
2. Add a few more food coloring drops to your thin cloud layer and watch! Eventually the food coloring will rain out of the cloud. Rain in the atmosphere works the same! Water will continue to build up inside of the cloud until there's too much of it and it has to fall out, because it is too heavy. This works the same for things like hail and snow. Now If you see a dark cloud in the sky but it's not raining, you know it's because it hasn't reached full saturation yet to start raining.

There you go! We learned about clouds and made it rain!

Now you can understand what's happening when you see rain around the next couple of days.

Send pictures of you and your family trying out this experiment to our meteorologist Candace Monacelli to her email address candace.monacelli@fox17online.com or her Facebook page. She will feature a future meteorologist each day!