How to Annotate Rainfall on a Diagram

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Did you know there are three different types of rain depending on how the how air is pushed upwards? And did you know that you can have all three types of rain in a single area? Learn about this and how to diagram it in this lesson.

Relief Rainfall

It might seem that rain just falls whenever you see rain clouds. But, there is a bit more science involved in it than that. The type of rain you get actually depends on what happens before your clouds even begin forming. In this lesson, you'll learn about the three different types of rain that you can get, and then you'll see how you can diagram these three different types of rain.

The first type is called relief rainfall. This type of rain happens when warm air gets pushed up a mountain side. It is also called orographic rainfall and is common when winds blow warm, moist air towards a mountain or hill. You'll most likely see this type of rainfall near coast lines where warm, moist air from the oceans gets pushed towards shorelines with mountains and hills. As the warm air gets pushed upwards, it begins to cool and condense. This release of moisture causes clouds to form. Once the clouds become saturated with moisture, they then release it in the form of rain. When the air makes it over the top of the mountain or hill, it begins to warm up as it makes its way down the mountain or hill. It soaks up more moisture, so there usually isn't much moisture on that side of the mountain or hill.


Convectional Rainfall

The second type is called convectional rainfall. When you see thunderstorms or big gray rain clouds on a hot summer day, then you may be experiencing this type of rainfall. With this type of rainfall, hot air rises as the ground is heated up by the sun, thus warming up the air close to the ground. As this warm air rises, it begins to cool and condense, forming cumulonimbus clouds. Once the clouds get full, raindrops begin to form. As gravity pulls on these raindrops, you'll see the rain start to fall.


Frontal Rainfall

The third type of rainfall is called frontal rainfall. If you listen to the weather, you may have heard of warm and cold fronts. When a warm front and a cold front meet and rain results, you have frontal rainfall. In this type of rainfall, the warm air rises because the cold front pushes up the warm front when they meet. As the warm air from the warm front rises, it'll cool and condense. Clouds form, and once they get saturated, you'll have rain.


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