You Asked 4 It: How does a cloud form? | KOB 4

You Asked 4 It: How does a cloud form?

Eddie Garcia
Updated: August 31, 2020 02:55 PM
Created: February 15, 2018 11:00 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - We have a great question from the youngest participant yet in You Asked 4 It - let's listen to 8-year-old Roman from Albuquerque.

"Hey Eddie, how do clouds form?" said Roman.

Alright, Roman, You Asked 4 -'s your answer!

Cloud formation can be very complex but - we're going to make it simple.

In many cases there are tiny, microscopic water molecules or droplets in the atmosphere - so small that they float!

Before a cloud form, they are invisible but special satellite equipment helps us see all those water droplets in the form of water vapor.

In this example, once it gets cold enough, those little molecules will look for something clump on to, like tiny dust or smoke particles. Then more and more will begin to clump together in a process we call condensation - you've probably seen condensation growing on the outside of a water bottle.

Once the right temperature for condensation is reached we start to see a cloud grow.

Now, it takes time for clouds to grow...but I want to show you how it looks when we speed up the process.

We went to Dr. Oscar Martinez with the Air Force Research Lab to help make a cloud in an instant!

In this experiment we're going to pour extremely cold liquid nitrogen at -321 degrees Fahrenheit, into the bottom of this trash can, then I'm going to dump boiling water right on top of it.

There you have it! An instant cloud.

This example, of course, is a little different than how cloud formation happens way up in the atmosphere - but you can see the condensation in real time!

As always leave experiments like this to the experts - and don't try this at home.

Are you curious about the science of weather? Here's your chance. Just Ask 4 It!

Go ahead and send your video question to Share 4 at You can ask any weather question, but be sure to keep it shorter than 15 seconds and you'll have the chance to make it on the news.

Watch other You Asked 4 It stories:

Is it dangerous to take a shower during a thunderstorm?

Why do storms come from the west?

Why does it rain?

What causes wind?

What's with the temperature variations across NM?

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