Posts Tagged ‘virga’

One Drop of Rain

Another post that was inadvertently left in draft form. So many different kinds of things to do wrong!

Not long ago, Ann asked me why one occasionally feels a single drop of rain when the sky is perfectly blue and clear, with no ongoing rain of any kind. I said I did not know.

But now I have a hunch.

I was watching some clouds from my trampoline (best place to watch clouds) and then I got this big fat drop — and no it was not a bird. One drop. And the sky was perfectly blue. Well, not perfectly blue. Some blue, some white, some gray-brown. I didn’t have my camera, but I got a picture later, not as pretty, but the best I can show you for now.


Here, the background clouds were white and reflective, much more than they seem, while the one in front, and lower, was brownish gray. It’s not because it was in shadow; it just was a gray cloud. Rain clouds are gray, but there was no rain; the sky was mostly blue, a little windy, very pleasant.

So I was trying to figure out the brownish parts, and I concluded that since they weren’t crisp like cauliflower, they were decaying cumulus, and in fact, they were quite thinned out and no longer reflective like the bright white clouds around them and in other parts of the sky. Furthermore, closer inspection revealed virga at their edges – looks like a ragged skirt, or a ragged slip dragging below the hem of a skirt. Here’s a better image of virga:


Anyway, virga is actually precipitation that doesn’t reach the ground because it evaporates before it gets there.

Well, but maybe just one drop gets all the way down.

The sky is like the ground – it’s not perfectly even and featureless; it’s full of variation, little wisps of cloud and little puffs of wind all going in and out of each other like mice in the fields. Hard for one drop to make it because the chances are much greater that it will evaporate, but then here I am with just one drop on my head.

Notice the universe; don’t just assume you know it. It’s full of surprises!

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