Cumulonimbus clouds, also known as thunderheads, release hail and rain in conjunction with updrafts. Ice crystals ride such updrafts into the air and then fall through the clouds, collecting water droplets as they drop. Once water droplets freeze onto ice crystals, hailstones are created. Cumulonimbus clouds release rain when they have reached their moisture saturation point.Continue Reading
According to Universe Today, cumulonimbus clouds form rain in the same way that other clouds do. They are essentially masses of condensed water floating in the sky that eventually become so saturated with vapor that they begin to release moisture, which falls to the ground. Cumulonimbus clouds are associated with heavy precipitation and thunderstorms. These clouds tend to form below 20,000 feet and produce lightning by bumping up against each other and creating static charges through ionized water droplets. Not only do cumulonimbus clouds produce typical rain and hail, they sometimes cause flash flooding. However despite the heavy precipitation these clouds generate, such downpours tend to last for only roughly 20 minutes.
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research reports that cumulonimbus clouds obtain their impressive energy from updrafts and downdrafts, which are essentially vertical winds capable of reaching speeds of 110 miles per hour. These same updrafts are responsible for forming hailstones within the clouds.Learn more about Clouds
Rain clouds turn gray or black because thick clouds saturated with rain drops scatter sunlight coming through the clouds. When less direct sunlight gets to the bottom of clouds, they appear darker to the human eye. Thin clouds that do not contain a lot of moisture allow enough sunlight through them so that they appear white to observers.Full Answer >
Clouds that produce precipitation as rain or snow are called frontal cirrostratus, altostratus and nimbostratus clouds. Nimbostratus clouds produce the most intense precipitation but don't produce all the elements that constitute a blizzard. High winds and low temperatures are also required.Full Answer >
Most commonly, rain clouds that produce a steady rain are referred to as nimbostratus clouds. These clouds appear low in the sky and are a medium to dark gray color. Sometimes stratus clouds are associated with a light drizzle.Full Answer >
According to USA Today, hail forms when strong updrafts inside a storm blow raindrops back up into sub-freezing layers of the atmosphere. This causes the raindrops to supercool and freeze, in some cases absorbing more moisture or ice from the surrounding clouds. The longer a hailstone spends rising and falling within a storm, the larger it becomes before finally falling to earth.Full Answer >