Sunday Story: The Raindrop

We’ve had some heavy April showers cross the plateau this morning. Now, we’re in a break. As you can see on radar, though, more batches of showers and t-showers are off to our southwest, moving our general direction. So, today will be unsettled. As we build up some heat during the day (esp if that sun comes out) the storms may become a little stronger. That yellow-shaded area is a slight risk for severe storms. That encompasses all of Middle TN but doesn’t quite cover the whole plateau. We’re mostly in the marginal risk. What this all means is that widespread severe wx is not expected, but a few storms could become briefly severe, with hail and damaging wind gusts the main threats. Just be aware of this if you plan to be out and about this afternoon and evening. The risk for tornadoes is very low. I’ll be watching it!


Today’s risk for raindrops makes this week’s Sunday Story perfectly timed!

The Raindrop

We have all been hit on the head by a raindrop at some point in our lives. It happens to the best of us. Did you ever wonder just how fast that drop was falling?

Naturally, the speed of the falling drop is heavily dependent on the size of the drop; larger drops fall faster than smaller drops. That doesn’t tell the whole story, though.

As the drop falls, it encounters a lot of friction from the air around it. That really slows that drop down! Still, most raindrops fall to the ground at about two miles per hour.

The largest drops fall at speeds of nearly 20 mph! These are those great big raindrops that we mostly see in the bigger summertime storms. Often times you can hear them hitting the roof of the house when they first start falling.

A raindrop cannot fall faster than 18 mph. If the drop falls any faster than that it will break apart in flight and become multiple drops.

Another interesting aspect of a raindrop is that, as it falls, friction causes the base of the drop to become flat. Contrary to artists’ depictions of raindrops, they are not tear shaped at all. They are actually shaped more like a hamburger bun, being flat on the bottom and then curved on top.

Sometimes, drier air here at ground level can cause the drop to evaporate before it makes it to the ground. Raindrops that evaporate before reaching the ground are called virga.

We have certainly seen our fair share of raindrops around the plateau over the past year, with 2018 being the wettest year on record for us. I know many of you are tired of seeing them fall. Hopefully, they’ll at least keep falling enough to keep us out of drought this summer!

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