The weight of a cloud can actually be determined. However, two crucial pieces of information have to be known. You have to know the size of the cloud and you have to know how much water it contains. Because water is what makes a cloud and clouds are mostly made up of water droplets.
Meteorologists differentiate between ten different types of clouds depending on if the water droplets are tiny, smaller than a hundredth of a millimeter, or sometimes larger, as is the case with rain clouds. If the clouds move in higher air layers, they can also consist of ice or snow crystals. The hailstones they contain are sometimes several centimeters in size.
Clouds can only be standardized to a limited extent and are not always clearly defined because there is no telling where the rain-bringing cloud begins and where does it end? It is not a clearly circumscribed body in three dimensions that can be clearly calculated. It is impossible to work precisely with such a cloud, because the two main factors, size, and density, cannot be precisely determined for the area of a rain cloud.
Sometimes 1000 kilos, sometimes billions of tons
But to answer the question, let’s take the path of generalization and thus create a standard. Let’s take the fair-weather cloud for illustration because its shape is clear and recognizable. If we assume that this cloud is the size of a soccer field and is perhaps 500 meters high, the result is a weight of around 1200 to 3000 kilograms.
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This means that the cloud contains around 1200 to 3000 liters of water. Rain clouds are there on the move in completely different dimensions. If we ‘wring out’ our self-made standard cloud and let it rain down on the football field, it doesn’t even make a liter per square meter over the 5000 square meters.
In a thunderstorm monsoon rain, however, ten to twenty liters of water per square meter falls within a short time and then the cloud moves a few hundred kilometers further and continues to rain down. An average thundercloud, as you see it more often in summer, can therefore easily weigh over 1.5 million tons. If we think of tropical storms, we tend to be hundreds of millions of tons, even billions of tons cannot be ruled out. Light as a feather? Not even close. These clouds are true meteorological monsters.