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Treebeard's Stumper
3 March 2000

The Sky is Falling

We've had rain, rain, and more rain lately here in central California! Think of the weight of all that rain up in the clouds before it falls. A gallon of water weighs about 8.3 pounds. A cubic foot is about 7.5 gallons, so a cubic foot of water weighs about 8.3 x 7.5 = 62 pounds. And so a storm cloud that drops one inch of rain holds about 62 / 12 = 5+ pounds of water per square foot. A cloud one mile on a side is 5,280 x 5,280 square feet. That comes to 1.4 billion pounds of water per square mile of cloud! How can that much water be floating in the air above us? Why doesn't it all fall at once?


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