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How can clouds hold water or snow?
Question Date: 1999-02-17
Answer 1:

Clouds can only form where air is rising. When air rises it cools off, and this can cause water droplets to form, making clouds. Not all rising air makes clouds, but if the air has enough moisture (humidity) in it, then clouds may form. A good way to picture this is when wind blows humid air toward a mountain. When the air hits the mountain it has no where to go but up. So the air rises.

So, how does a cloud hold water? First of all, the droplets of water are very very small, smaller than the head of a pin. Because they are so small they are easily kept up by the rising air. So the reason that clouds can hold water droplets is because the air in clouds is rising, and the rising air keeps pushing the water droplets up.

Basically, it's the same with snow, but a cloud holding snow or ice crystals must be colder.

OK, so here is a question for you. If slowly rising air inside a cloud can keep tiny water droplets up, then what do you think is going on inside a cloud that contains hail stones?

Please let me know if you have any other questions, and get back to me about the one I asked you!

Answer 2:

First, you should know what clouds are.They are just globs of air that hold a lot of water. So much water that you can see it. This is the same way that you can see your breath on cold winter mornings. When you breath out, you exhale water from your lungs. When your breath hits the cold air outside, the cold makes the water in it come together into very tiny particles that you can see as clouds or fog or steam. High up in the sky, it is very cold so that when air that holds more water moves up, the water comes together just as with your breath.

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