MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Why doesn't rain fall straight down to the Earth?

Date: Fri Aug 27 13:33:17 1999
Posted By: Paul Odgren, Instructor, Cell Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School (Dept. of Cell Biology)
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 933156550.Es

Greetings Dana,

Gravity rules, and it ALWAYS pulls things toward the center of the earth - 
that is, straight down. If you see rain falling at an angle, it's because 
there is some wind. Look sometime at smoke from a chimney on a day that 
feels calm, and it is almost always rising at an angle due to slight winds. 
If rain is very fine, it is extremely easy for a light breeze to make it go 
sideways. The heavier the raindrops (the more inertia they have), the more 
wind it takes to shift them sideways. When a rainstorm is moving through 
your area, remember that it is MOVING. If you set up a decent anemometer 
(protected from the rain but not the wind) with a nice, low-friction 
bearing, you should see it rotating a bit even when it feels nearly calm 
outside. Even if only at couple of miles per hour, wind can still carry the 
drops sideways a bit as they fall. Hope this answers your question. Keep 

Paul Odgren
Cell Biology
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Worcester MA

Current Queue | Current Queue for Earth Sciences | Earth Sciences archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Earth Sciences.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-1999. All rights reserved.