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Treebeard's Stumper
13 October 2000

Black and White Clouds

I don't get to fly very often, so our Dunn Middle School flight to Washington D.C. last week was a real treat! I sat glued to the window trying to plot our course on my map, but I got lost coming home because the heartland of the country was covered with brilliant white clouds. They look like you could snuggle up in them like a giant white comforter. Our first day back at school was also our first winter rain of the season, and a reminder that those thick white clouds look very different from below. Water is colorless, so why do rain clouds look so dark from below, and so white from above?

Looking out my airplane window at bright white cloud
tops somewhere over Missouri. The clouds are breaking
up as we fly west away from the storm center.
A rainbow in the Santa Ynez Valley last week. Note how
dark the clouds are from below. The storm is starting to
clear out, and white cloud tops are visible in the breaks.

Answer


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Copyright © 2000 by Marc Kummel / mkummel@rain.org