Watercolor Cirrus Clouds in a blue sky

Crystal Clouds

We’ll soon be out of winter here in the northern hemisphere, so I thought I’d write about super cold clouds before it warms up in the spring.

These clouds are the thin, wispy clouds that might even look fibrous against a deep blue sky. Some folks call them “mare’s tales”.

Cirrus clouds are made of ice crystals instead of water droplets, and can be seen any time of year.

Watercolor Cirrus Clouds

Hold on, I have questions already! High school science class was over 30 years ago, and I’ve forgotten most of what I learned way back then! Time for some research . . .

Ice in Summer??

While it may be hot down here on the ground, air temperature cools in relation to distance from the earth’s surface. The farther away you go, the cooler it gets. This happens because of the relationship between pressure and temperature.

There are more air molecules closer to sea level due to gravity, meaning air pressure is higher down below than up above. Lower air pressure leads to lower temperatures. Even in the summertime.

Doesn’t Hot Air Rise??

Yes, which cools it down as it thins and the number of air molecules decreases.

But It’s Closer to the Sun!!

Yes, solar energy comes hurtling through the atmosphere, but not all of it. Some of it bounces back out into space off the atmosphere itself. Some of it bursts through to the earth’s surface and bounces back again, but at high altitudes the air is not dense enough to hold onto that warmth.

Now back to our cirrus discussion.

Cirrus clouds form when dry air rises. There’s less water vapor to gather together to produce water droplets as the warm, dry air moves higher. When it gets high into the atmosphere, what little water vapor it contains changes directly into ice crystals. It skips the liquid stage altogether!

While cirrus clouds technically do produce precipitation, it evaporates again before ever reaching the ground.

Cirrus Life Lessons

This post is part of the “Sky” segment of my Creation series. I’m spending March and April using the second day of Creation as my writing springboard. Here’s a refresher:

Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. God called the space “sky.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.

Genesis 1:6-8 NLT

So what can we learn from these cold, high-altitude clouds?

There’s Warmth in Numbers

More molecules in a smaller space means warmer temperatures, while the same number of molecules in a larger space quickly cool down.

Followers of Jesus living on mission together help keep one another encouraged in the faith. Working side-by-side toward a common goal of furthering the Kingdom of God on earth brings us together and builds our faith in a way nothing else can.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

When we decide we’ve arrived at a place in life where we can make it on our own, it doesn’t take long for the flame of faith to dwindle and our temperature to cool.

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

Cold, Icy Conditions Don’t Produce Well

Cirrus clouds cause precipitation, but nothing of any significance.

The more time we spend apart from a local gathering of believers the colder our faith can grow, and the less productive we may become for the Kingdom of God. That may seem like the easy route to take, until we remember that we will be held responsible for how we use the talents and resources God has given us.

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds” (Revelation 22:12).

Having Trouble Staying Warm?

Get back to community! Gather regularly with other followers of Jesus, and remember to live in love.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).

We have arrived in March, and Spring is right around the corner!

As a thank you for reading this month, I’ll share a free Spring Cleaning printable checklist for you to use.

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