The Actual Shape of Raindrops

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If you imagine the shape of a raindrop, you probably think of a tear drop shape, but the reality of rain is much more complicated. It’s Okay to Be Smart has a great primer on the subject that takes a look at the forces on a raindrop and shows you the actual shape they take, which depends largely on their size.

Small raindrops tend to coalesce together over time and get larger and progressively flatter. When the drop’s volume gets too large (below), it balloons up like a parachute. Researchers call this a bag. Stretched into a film, the drop’s surface tension is no longer able to win its fight against aerodynamic forces, and the drop shreds into smaller droplets. (Video and image credit: It’s Okay to Be Smart)

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