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Crazy About Clouds

Matter of perspective. Over most of the lower 48 states, it’s cloudy 50–70% of the time. Over these same states, it’s also sunny 50–70% of the time. How can this be? It’s simply a matter of perspective. You can call mixed skies partly cloudy, if you please—but they will also be partly sunny! Of course, some places are cloudier than others. The cloudiest places in the U.S. are the Great Lakes region and the Oregon and Washington coast; the sunniest area is the Southwest.1

Sowing in the clouds. It takes more than water vapor to make a rain cloud. The vapor needs something to cluster around and make a droplet—something called a nucleus, such as salt or dust. Sometimes clouds that have enough water to rain never do simply because there are no particles to form raindrops. Because of this phenomenon, scientists have developed a technique called cloud seeding to encourage rain in dry areas. Airplanes fly through clouds, dropping tiny pieces of compounds such as calcium chloride or silver iodide to make “seeds” for the raindrops. Sometimes these particles are shot up from the ground, using rockets, balloons, or anti-aircraft guns.

Don’t steal my cloud! Because of arid climate conditions in certain areas, China is one of the top users of cloud-seeding technology. In fact, it’s so common that the government uses it to “guarantee” good weather for national celebrations. Cloud seeding does cause disputes between neighboring communities. Cities race each other to harvest rain—and the losers accuse the winners of stealing precipitation!2

Cloudy protection. Did you know that clouds have altered world events? A number of battles have been confused or called off due to fog or rain—and God’s providence. One battle in the Revolutionary War was even named “Battle of the Clouds” because a torrential downpour stopped the fighting.

Holy cloud. God used a cloud to protect and guide Israel on their journey from Egypt to Canaan—and to veil His glory in the most holy place. But this cloud was more than a mix of water vapor and dust particles. This cloud was holy—because it was God’s presence! It showed God’s heart longing: to dwell with His people.

1. National Climatic Data Center.
2. The Guardian, July 14, 2004.

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