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Rain not only gives us puddles to splash around in; it’s also essential to life on Earth.

In this lesson, we’ll learn about how rain is made, why it’s important, and some interesting facts about rain from around the world.

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What is Rain?

It’s raining cats and dogs! You may have heard this saying a few times, but you can be assured that you don’t have to worry about cats or dogs hitting your umbrella the next time you go out in a rain storm. In fact, this expression simply means that it is raining really hard. So what exactly is rain?

Rain drops on a leaf
Rain droplets

Rain is a type of precipitation. Precipitation is when droplets of water fall from the sky.

Sometimes these water droplets can be frozen, like ice or snow. In rain, the temperature of water droplets are above freezing, so the water is in liquid form.

Rain Clouds

While they may look like it, the clouds in the sky aren’t really fluffy cotton balls. They are actually collections of water vapor that have condensed into tiny water droplets.Think about when you boil water in a pot. As the water heats up, steam rises, which is actually water vapor. If you placed a piece of foil above the pan, you’d notice that as the steam rises and cools off, it forms little water droplets.

This is condensation, and it’s how clouds are formed.

This image shows clouds right before it rains.
Rain clouds

Once a cloud has formed, the water droplets inside continue to get heavier as the water vapor condenses. When the water droplets get heavy enough, they start to fall from the cloud.

It’s kind of like when you put a tissue under running water. At some point, the water being collected on the tissue is too heavy and the tissue breaks. The water comes down much like rain falls from a cloud.

The Importance of Rain

Rain is an important part of the water cycle.

The water cycle is the process by which water on the Earth’s surface heats up and evaporates, or changes to water vapor, condenses in the clouds, and returns to the land as a form of precipitation. It’s kind of like riding an escalator. The belt on the escalator starts at the top or bottom and slowly moves back to its original position over and over again.

Diagram of Water Cycle
Water Cycle

Without rain, our Earth would lack all the water we need to survive.

Our lakes, rivers, and oceans could eventually dry up. Growing food would be difficult and drinking water would be scarce. Life on Earth as we know it would be very different.

Interesting Facts About Rain

  • Rain is not just a bunch of water. Did you know that it can rain different colors? Depending on what types of materials or chemicals are in the water vapor that forms the clouds, rain can be red, green, yellow, black and brown.
  • Rain can happen in any season and can accumulate in different amounts depending on where you live.

    On Mt. Waialeale in Hawaii, it rains up to 350 days each year. This means the people living there only have about two weeks where there’s no rain..

    .and they probably get a lot of use from their umbrellas and rain boots!

  • In some places where it is very hot and little rain occurs, you can find phantom rain. This happens when rain evaporates even before it hits the ground.

    Due to the high temperature, the rain turns from liquid back into water vapor as it falls, which means the land below remains dry.

Lesson Summary

  • Rain is a type of precipitation that happens when water vapor condenses to form droplets, which in turn fall to the ground.
  • Rain is an important part of the water cycle.
  • It can rain different amounts in different environments.

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