Causes Of Rain

When the invisible vapour which is diffused in the atmosphere becomes sufficiently cooled, it appears visible as mist or cloud, and a further reduction of temperature causes its precipitation as rain, hail, or snow. The cooling of the higher regions of the atmosphere is doubtless the chief cause of this condensation; but the property which aqueous vapour possesses of radiating heat may also contribute to the result. Moreover, the law which regulates the amount of vapour which air at any p
rticular temperature can sustain in a transparent state, determines that when two bodies of air at different temperatures, saturated with vapour, intermix, some moisture must be rendered visible; and hence, it is not only possible, but highly probable, that rain may result from the conflict of different winds. Let us imagine two cubic yards of air, both saturated with moisture, but having the respective temperatures of 50 and 70 degrees, to come into contact. There will be a tendency to equalize the temperature to a mean, which is 60°; and during this process, some of the vapour will be condensed.

For in the air at 50° there is   110·7 grains of vapour
and " 70 "   216·0 "
Total amount of vapour 326·7 "
But two cubic yards of air at 60° can only sustain 313·2 "
Hence there will be deposited 13·5 " rain.

It may be conceded, therefore, that when a warm and moist current of air encounters a body of cold air which may not be extremely dry, the mixture is unable to retain the whole of the vapour in an invisible state; so that the excess becomes visible as mist or fog, and, when the temperature has become sufficiently lowered, rain. The British Isles are more or less enveloped in fog, or mist, at the commencement of easterly winds, which, with a sudden change of wind, is exhibited even in summer; while the south-westerly winds, warm, and arriving from the ocean, deposit large quantities of rain by the cooling effect of the land, colder by reason of its latitude. When rain occurs with a northerly wind, it is probably due to the deposition from an upper south-westerly current, often apparently proved by the movements of the upper clouds.