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Weather Wise: Raindrops

When raindrops initially form, they're spherical and very small with a diameter as little as half a millimeter.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hi everyone, meteorologist Kaitlynn Fish here with your Weather Wise lesson for today. Today we're talking rain.

Here's a shape you're familiar with, a teardrop.

Of course, we use it to represent rain, but have you wondered if a raindrop actually looks like this?

The answer is...no.

When raindrops initially form, they're spherical and very small with a diameter as little as half a millimeter. That's because the water molecules that make up that tiny raindrop have very strong bonds between each other. This called surface tension.

With time the drop grows larger and heavier, it starts to fall. On its way down it collides and merges with other, smaller raindrops and continues to grow in size.

As the bigger drop continues to fall, air resistance increases on the underside and flattens it out.

The raindrop now takes the shape like that of a hamburger bun!

This air resistance can eventually split that still growing, hamburger bun-shaped raindrop into two smaller, spherical drops, and then the process can repeat.

Modern radars can actually tell us the approximate size and shape of raindrops. That's important to meteorologists because it gives us an idea of how heavy precipitation might be falling at a location many miles away.

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