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A cloud is water vapor in the atmosphere (air) that we can see. It is where rain, hail, and snow come from. Water on the Earth evaporates (turns into an invisible gas) and rises up into the sky. Higher up, where the air is colder, the water condenses: it changes from a gas to drops of water or crystals of ice. We see these drops of water as clouds.
See the fact file below for more information on Clouds or alternatively, download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
What is a Cloud?
A cloud is water vapor (an invisible gas) in the atmosphere that has condensed into small droplets of water or ice crystals that appear in visible formations or shapes in the sky.
The Water Cycle
Water on the earth evaporates and rises up into the sky.
Higher up, where the air is colder, the water condenses (changes from a gas to drops of water). These drops of water are clouds.
The drops fall down to earth as raindrops, hail, or snow, and then the water evaporates again. This is called the water cycle.
How Do Clouds Form?
- A cloud forms when air is heated by the sun.
- As it rises, it slowly cools until it reaches the saturation point.
- The water then condenses, forming a cloud.
- When the cloud and the air that it is made of are warmer than the air around it, it floats.
- Air cools and releases moisture when;
- it goes up the side of a mountain
- when it goes over something colder such as cool water in a lake
- It goes over ground that is cooled at night
- Clouds that are white are actually reflecting light from the sun.
- Clouds look light and fluffy, but they are actually heavy.
- Each cubic meter (m3) of the cloud only has about 5 grams of water in it.
- Cloud droplets are about 1,000 times heavier than evaporated water, so they are much heavier than air.
- Clouds move when the wind pushes them.
- The high Cirrus clouds can move as fast as 100 miles per hour.
- Thunderstorm clouds (Cumulonimbus) usually travel around 40 miles per hour.
- Very thick clouds with large water droplets make rain or snow.
- The biggest clouds make thunder and lightning.
- When clouds appear to be brilliant colors at sunrise or sunset, it is due to dust particles in the air.
- Green clouds often mean a tornado is about to come.
- Clouds and fog are basically the same things, but most clouds form only at height, while fog forms near the ground.
- Clouds look gray because less light is reaching their bases.
- Sometimes clouds look dark simply because they are in the shadow of another cloud or because the setting sun is only illuminating their tops.
Main cloud types are named by how high they form:
Low Clouds = Stratus: Up to 6,500 feet.
- Low clouds, usually made of water droplets, may occasionally produce very light rain, drizzle, or snow. When a low stratus cloud touches the ground, it is called fog.
Middle Clouds = Alto: 6,500 feet to 18,000 feet
- Middle clouds, usually made of water droplets, may have some ice crystals. They sometimes produce rain or snow that generally evaporates before reaching the ground.
High Clouds = Cirrus: Above 18,000 feet
- These clouds are too high and thin to produce rain or snow.
The Five Basic Families of Clouds
Cirrus clouds are high and thin.
- The air is very cold at higher levels, so these clouds form from ice crystals instead of water droplets. Cirrus clouds are also called mares’ tails because they look like the tails of a horse.
Stratus clouds are like flat sheets.
- These may be low-level clouds (stratus), medium-level (altostratus), high-level (cirrostratus), or thick multi-level clouds that make rain or snow (nimbostratus).
Stratocumulus clouds are in the form of ripples or rolls.
- These may be low-level clouds (stratocumulus), medium-level (altocumulus), or high-level (cirrocumulus).
Cumulus clouds are small and puffy when they begin to form.
- These may grow into heap clouds that have a moderate vertical extent (nothing added to the name) or become towering vertical clouds (towering cumulus).
Cumulonimbus clouds are very large cumulus-type clouds.
- These clouds usually develop cirrus tops and other features that give them their own unique look. Cumulonimbus clouds are the only clouds that produce thunderstorms with hail, lightning, and thunder.
Thunder and Lightning
- Thunder is caused by lightning
- When dark, puffy thunder clouds make rain, little bits of water and ice bump into each other inside the cloud.
- As the ice and water bump into each other, electricity builds up.
- When liquid water bumps into ice, it takes electrons with it.
- This gives the water a negative electrical charge, and the ice has a positive charge.
- The electrons travel with the water as it falls out of the cloud as rain.
- This then causes a significant buildup of static electricity.
- The buildup is what causes thunder.
- When enough static electricity builds up, a bolt of lightning shoots back up to the cloud.
- The vibrations in the air that move away from the lightning bolt cause vibrations.
- We sense these vibrations as sounds, and the sound of a lightning bolt is thunder.
This bundle contains 22 ready-to-use Cloud worksheets across two individual worksheet packs that are perfect for students who want to learn more about cloud’s which are water in the atmosphere (air) that we can see. It is where rain and snow comes from. Water on the Earth evaporates (turns into an invisible gas) and rises up into the sky.
Worksheet Pack 1:
- Cloud Facts.
- Cloud Cycle.
- Across the Clouds.
- Look Up.
- Blank Clouds.
- Describe Me.
- Picture Me.
- Special Clouds.
- Cloud Stands For.
- Cloud Word Search.
- A Beautiful Sky.
Worksheet Pack 2:
- Cloud Facts
- Forming Clouds – Cloud Formation Timeline
- Draw Me a Cloudy Day
- Cloud Types – Low-level Clouds
- Mid-level Clouds
- High-level Clouds
- Convection Clouds
- Storm Clouds Beware
- Recognizing Clouds
- Key Answers
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are clouds white?
Clouds are white because they reflect light from the sun.
How Many Types of Cloud Are There?
There are more than one hundred different types of cloud.
What is the study of clouds called?
The study of clouds is called nephology. This is a branch of meteorology, which is the study/science of weather.
What makes clouds move?
Wind causes clouds to move and change shape.
Are snow clouds white like snow?
Snow clouds are not white like snow. They are gray or blue-gray clouds that completely cover the sky before a snowfall.
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Link will appear as Cloud Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 1, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.