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The Lake Pleasant Rain Engine

7 Sep 2015, 07:01 UTC
The Lake Pleasant Rain Engine
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

During this year’s monsoon season I captured an ideal example of a rain-producing storm cloud. Of course, as a scientist, I had to immediately clutter it up with labels to explain its components. If you’d like to see the unretouched original image, click on the thumbnail below. Then prepare for a lesson in basic thermodynamics.

Sometimes, during our monsoon season, there’s only a single cloud in the sky. It forms over Lake Pleasant, a reservoir about 10 miles west of here and just beyond that mountain range. The lake is 30 km2 (11.5 mile2) with an average depth of 20 meters (70 feet). That’s a lot of water, and some of it went into creating that cloud.
There’s nothing really unusual about this storm cloud, but it’s a textbook example that clearly displays all the important components of interest to meteorologists. There’s 8 components to a storm cloud, some of which are labeled above, and all of which are explained below.
1. Daytime heating: Monsoon season lasts, on average, from late July to early September. During that period, here in Arizona, daytime temperatures hover in the triple digits. The Sun’s rays heat the air, ground, and bodies of water like ...

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