This Is How Heavy A Fluffy Cloud Can Really Be

You might want to revisit that romantic idea that something you are talking about is as "light as a cloud." It turns out that those white wisps of vapor weigh a bit more than a little mist.

Clouds form when water on the earth evaporates and rises into the sky as vapor, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Once there, lower temperatures create clouds, which will release the water as precipitation.

You might have studied this water cycle in elementary or middle school. One thing your teacher might not have covered, however, is what a cloud weighs. Since clouds float, it seems like they might feel as light as helium balloons. But the fluffy white puffs can contain 500,000,000 grams of water, according to Mental Floss. How much liquid is that exactly? Well, imagine 2,500 donkeys hanging in the air (or 100 elephants, if you like that animal better) — that would be a similar weight.

The water cycle, and why clouds are so heavy

The reason clouds seemingly flutter so effortlessly high in the sky is simply because the dry air surrounding them has a higher density, and is heavier. Clouds are also spread across a wide space, said Science Alert. Plus, condensation, the process through which a liquid is made from water vapor keeps them buoyant.

Clouds form from water droplets, trillions of them. Some are so small that you'd need a million to fill a raindrop, said Mental Floss. Warm air keeps those drops from falling when it wafts upward and allows the cloud to ride on its currents. Eventually, as those raindrops add up, a cloud becomes heavier. It can ultimately weigh slightly more than one million pounds, said Best Life.

Eventually, however, the water density in the cloud becomes heavier, so much that it releases rain (or in the cold, sleet or snow), explained The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And then the cycle starts again.