There’s Nothing Lighter And Fluffier Than A Cloud… Right?
Flying above the clouds in an airplane, I’ve often pondered them, taken pictures of them, and admired their fluffiness. I’ve never really asked myself “how much to clouds weigh?” but the question is super fascinating.
They’re just puffs, right? Insubstantial? Light as air?
Nope. They’re actually really effing heavy.
So, How Much Do Clouds Weigh?
How heavy are clouds, actually? And how do you even work that out scientifically?
Clouds are made up of tiny water droplets, this we know. So this obviously means that they need to weigh something. Because of this, it becomes apparent that there are a lot of variables in working out how much a cloud weighs.
Cumulus clouds, which are like the Simpson’s clouds – you know, the puffy ones – are the heaviest.
The average cumulus cloud weighs 1.1 MILLION POUNDS. So basically, at any given moment being underneath clouds, you’ve got around 100 elephants hovering over your head.
Why Are Clouds So Heavy?
Clouds are so heavy because they’re big, and made up of water; this we’ve already covered. The water density of a cumulus cloud is around 1/2 gram of water per cubic metre. This works out to be about a marble’s worth of water in a box that’s big enough for you and a pal to sit in.
Other clouds can be much denser, which means that they’ll also be even more heavy.
How Do Clouds Float When They Weigh That Much?
So how on Earth do clouds float when they weigh so much? For starters, the weight is spread out a lot into millions of individual droplets. In fact, these droplets are so small that you’d need around a million of them to form a single raindrop.
Part of the reason they’re able to float is because the weight is distributed so widely across the cloud. The droplets that form a cloud are so tiny that gravity has hardly any effect on them. Add condensation into the equation, and clouds become buoyant.
In fact, here’s another wild detail: a cloud is less dense than dry air. Because of this, they’re able to float in air. Simply put.
Do All Clouds Weigh The Same Amount?
Of course not all clouds weigh the same!
Clouds vary greatly depending on their density, size, and the weather conditions at the time. Plus, different types of clouds have different densities and size tendencies, so the weight of a cloud also depends on the type of cloud.
For example, astronomers have discovered the largest and oldest mass of water ever detected in the universe. It’s a gigantic, 12-billion-year-old cloud which carries 140 trillion times more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined.
This is a sharp contrast from the “normal” cloud weight of around a million pounds.