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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Rainbows sometimes appear in the sky after a downpour, while water droplets still are lingering in the air. Those droplets, like a prism, bend white light from the sun into an arc of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
But even when it hasn't rained and there's little chance of spotting a rainbow, gazing at the sky can be fun. Clouds form into different shapes - even the same cloud might look like two completely different things to you and another person - and the types of clouds in the sky even help predict the weather.
Next time you bundle up and go outside, look up. Can you spot any of these kinds of clouds?
Forming all different kinds of fluffy shapes, these are the best clouds if you're looking to pick out clouds that look like different objects - like a dog, or a house, or a turtle.
Nice weather ahead
These are wispy, feathery clouds. They're formed by winds twisting and spreading ice crystals in the air into strings and strands.
The weather is about to change
These are thin clouds that look like a big sheet covering the entire sky. In high altitudes (like the mountains or the top of a hill), stratus clouds look like fog.
Prediction: These are too light to signal rain
These enormous clouds can look like mountains, as they form when warm, wet air rises very high.
Rain, hail or tornadoes
From the ground, these clouds appear to form a layer above us and have heavy 'pouch-like” shapes hanging from them. These pouches are created by cold air in the cloud sinking toward us.
Although these white streams across the sky are left by airplanes, they are still considered clouds because water in the plane's exhaust condenses in the sky.
Planes are just passing overhead, but contrails can tell us about how much moisture is in the air
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration