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Why Does It Rain? — ‘The Why’

Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. Why does it rain?” you ask? Seriously? Are we doing someone’s homework here or maybe you just forgot what you learned in school, which is it? (Still, it does help us avoid those personal questions and ties in to previous weather-related editions of this series.)

why does it rain

Why does it rain?/Image: NationalGeographic

Just in case this is a homework question though, let’s be nice and review. According to Wikipedia rain “is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitated”—meaning they get so heavy they “fall under gravity.”

(Additionally, rain is actually purple—no, no, no, don’t copy that. It’s a classic rock joke. Google it or ask your mom and dad.) For those who live in California (especially) rain is also “a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth.” We need it because it actually provides appropriate conditions for numerous kinds of ecosystems, water for irrigating crops and hydroelectric power plants.

So why does it rain? Once again, we look to our friends at the Discovery Channel to confirm what we only vaguely recall from our school days.

why does it rain

Why does it rain?/Image: Flickr

They confirm that when water gets warm enough it becomes vapor or evaporates into the air. “When a mass of air quickly cools to its saturation point, the water vapor condenses into clusters of tiny water droplets and frozen water crystals.”

These clusters—as we learned in an earlier edition of this series–are called clouds. As time goes by, the crystals and droplets that compose the cloud can reportedly attract additional water to themselves.

We have rain because sometimes the droplets grow so heavy that gravity actually pulls them down to earth as raindrops. We have rain because the temperature is not too cold. If the temperature was cold enough the ice crystals would remain frozen or partially frozen and get big enough to be pulled to earth by gravity in the form of freezing rain, hail sleet or even snow. (Pretty cool, huh?)

Why does it rain? Now you know.

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About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.