Explaining the atmospheric phenomenon called Virga

Weather News

Have you ever seen rain showing up on a radar, but when you look out your window you don’t see anything. 22News Storm Team Meteorologist Kelly Reardon explains the phenomenon known as virga.

Sunday morning something interesting popped up on the radar. It’s an atmospheric phenomenon and you might’ve seen it before.

If you’re watching the 22News Storm Team forecast, or even just looking at a radar image on your phone, and you see it’s raining at your location, but you look out the window, and there’s nothing. This is something called virga.

Rain, as opposed to snow, forms when there’s a thick layer of warm air above the surface. But with virga, a layer of exceptionally dry air near the surface causes the rain to evaporate before hitting the ground.

The thicker the dry layer, the less likely rain is able to make it to the surface. The radar isn’t lying about the rain. The farther you are from the radar, the higher in the atmosphere you are looking because it tilts upward.

So the radar is reading rain, but since the beam isn’t pointing parallel closer to the ground, it doesn’t pick up that the rain is not falling all the way down.

In person, virga tends to look like streaks extending down from the bottom of a cloud. 

Find 22News on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to reportit@wwlp.com.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Local Weather Maps

7 Day Forecast

7 Day Forecast

7 Day Forecast

Daycast

Daycast

Northeast Temperatures

Northeast Temperatures

Temperatures

Temperatures

Dew Points

Dew Points

Wind Speeds

Wind Speeds

Wind Gusts

Wind Gusts

Heat Index

Heat Index

State Police Overtime Scandal

More State Police Overtime Investigation
LIVE NOW /
Watch 22News at 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Watch Live 7PM: Sunday Night Football

Toys for Tots

More Toys for Tots

22News Storm Team

Weather Tweets