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Cloud color dependent on several variables

When it rains, some clouds are darker in different parts of the sky. Why is that?

— Mark S., Ashland

We're glad you asked, Mark. Even though we're in a trend of continuous sun for the foreseeable future, it's best to be prepared for when the rain comes.

According to www.wxdude.com, the website for national TV meteorologist Nick Walker, three things affect cloud color: the sun, the thickness of the cloud and where you're standing.

Less sunlight will shine through a cloud if it contains a lot of moisture and the cloud is positioned between you and the sun. This will make the cloud appear darker. Big, tall clouds that are dark at the bottom have a lot of moisture inside and usually bring heavy rain.

However, even a thick cloud can look white if the sun is to your back when you see the cloud. The cloud reflects the sunlight, thus appearing white.

Regardless, if you see dark, tall clouds, these usually bring a lot of rain — and quickly. That's the time to head inside and stay dry.Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.