How Clouds Form

posted in: Michigan Weather Forecast | 28

Continuing with the cloud series we will look at how clouds form today.

Clouds are made of water droplets or ice crystals that are so small and light they are able to stay in the air. But how does the water and ice that makes up clouds get into the sky? And why do different types of clouds form?

The water or ice that make up clouds travels into the sky within air as water vapor, the gas form of water. Water vapor gets into air mainly by evaporation – some of the liquid water from the ocean, lakes, and rivers turns into water vapor and travels in the air. When air rises in the atmosphere it gets cooler and is under less pressure. When air cools, it’s not able to hold all of the water vapor it once was. Air also can’t hold as much water when air pressure drops. The vapor becomes small water droplets or ice crystals and a cloud is formed.

It’s easier for water vapor to condense into water droplets when it has a particle to condense upon. These particles, such as dust and pollen, are called condensation nuclei. Eventually, enough water vapor condenses upon pieces of dust, pollen or other condensation nuclei to form a cloud.

Some clouds form as air warms up near the ground and rises. Heated by sunshine, the ground heats the air just above it. That warmed air starts to rise because, when warm, it is lighter and less dense than the air around it. As it rises, its pressure and temperature drop causing water vapor to condense. Eventually, enough moisture will condense out of the air to form a cloud. Several types of clouds form in this way including cumulus, cumulonimbus, mammatus, and stratocumulus clouds.

Some clouds, such as lenticular and stratus clouds, form when wind blows into the side of a mountain range or other terrain and is forced upward, higher in the atmosphere. The side of the mountains that the wind blows towards is called the windward side. The side of the mountains where the wind blows away is called the leeward side. This can also happen without a dramatic mountain range, just when air travels over land that slopes upward and is forced to rise. The air cools as it rises, and eventually clouds form. Other types of clouds, such as cumulus clouds, form above mountains too as air is warmed at the ground and rises.

Air is also forced upward at areas of low pressure. Winds meet at the center of the low pressure system and have nowhere to go but up. Air is also forced upward at weather fronts – where two large masses of air collide at the Earth’s surface.

  • At a warm front, where a warm air mass slides above a cold air mass, the warm air is pushed upward forming many different types of clouds – from low stratus clouds to midlevel altocumulus and altostratus clouds, to high cirrus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus clouds. Clouds that produce rain like nimbostratus and cumulonimbus are also common at warm fronts.
  • At a cold front, where heavy cold air mass pushes a warm air mass upward, cumulous clouds are common. They often grow into cumulonimbus clouds, which produce thunderstorms. Nimbostratus, stratocumulus, and stratus clouds can also form at cold front.

Here is the sunrise from the South Haven GRERL webcam

High pressure will provide another mostly sunny and mild day with high temperatures near 70.

A slow moving low pressure system tracking south of Michigan will bring clouds and scattered light rain showers for Tuesday.

After today cooler temperatures, generally in the 50s, will prevail through the rest of the week.

 

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Jeff(Portland)Sandy (Hudsonville)SlimSlimBarry in Zeeland Recent comment authors
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Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

Winter is over. My yard has been greening up fast the last couple days.. Bring on the summer like temps..

Andy W
Andy W

It appears we’ll be WARMING up in the very near future!!

https://www.aer.com/science-research/climate-weather/arctic-oscillation/

ROCKY (Rockford)
ROCKY (Rockford)

Get ready! Highs in the 50’s the rest of the week = below normal all week!

Andy W
Andy W

Big deal…..no snow, so don’t care!!! Sunny and mid 50’s is fine with me this time of year! Woodtv only has 3 days below 60 and two of those days are highs of 58, nobody is shivering about that! When are you making your annual disappearance??

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ROCKY (Rockford)
ROCKY (Rockford)

Check out the SNOW COVER in the UP! INCREDIBLE snow cover for late April! What a month, what a winter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.weatherstreet.com/weather-forecast/Snow-Depth-US.htm

Andy W
Andy W

Yep, mostly in Canada like usual in late April, nothing out of the ordinary there! Perfect spot for your new home!

Andy W
Andy W

Well, bye bye cooler than normal temps!! See you again around Christmas time Rocky! Maybe you can take some time this summer and find that new home near the North Pole in Canada, that you were talking about around Election Day time last year!

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Mookie
Mookie

The warm start to May I’ve been saying for a few days now is finally showing up!

Sandy (Hudsonville)
Sandy (Hudsonville)

It is a perfect day outside!!

Mookie
Mookie

GR just hit 70! I thought maybe they wouldn’t pull it off based on their cooler temps all day long, but I stand corrected.

Mookie
Mookie

Average high is 62 degrees.

Slim

I am sure that the official high will surpass 70° today but unless it made it before the last posted reading it still is not official the 3 PM reading was 69° but who can tell the difference.
Slim

Slim

The last time GRR had a 70° or better reading was on October 22, 2017. That is 184 days so it has been 6 months since the last official 70° or better day here in Grand Rapids.
Slim

Slim

While not officially at the airport. I now have 70° here at my house.
Slim

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

70 here, do I win something?

Slim

yes you win the right to claim it made it to 70° at your house.
slim

Sandy (Hudsonville)
Sandy (Hudsonville)

It is gorgeous outside!! I am loving this weather. It is perfect to be doing outside stuff.

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

LOL

Mookie
Mookie

Lansing just hit 70. Their second 70 degree day so far in April.

Mookie
Mookie

Lansing up to 68 degrees at 1pm! GR remains one of the coolest spots in Southern Lower Michigan.

ROCKY (Rockford)
ROCKY (Rockford)

Who knew?

INDY
INDY

Seeing some real warm end of next week coming probably bring out the skeetters darn it.. INDYDOG14!

Mookie
Mookie

You must have read my post this morning!

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

It is definitely a “windows open” day. Air out the winter funk.

INDY
INDY

After today temps look below normal till next week get out and enjoy today! INDYDOG14!!

Andy W
Andy W

As long as it’s not snowing and temps are at least in the mid 50’s, I’m enjoying this weather!!

Mookie
Mookie

Poor GR. I’m beginning to think GR will miss out on the warmest air once again today! Current temps:

GR 55
Lansing 58
Flint 58
Detroit 59

Mookie
Mookie

What a weekend and today is even nicer! The golf course was packed, and I saw lots of boats and paddlers out. Starting April 30th, the GFS is showing the warmest air of the season – and lasting at least several days. This will be much warmer than the 40’s and low 50’s we saw at the end of April and beginning of May in both 2016 and 2017.