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October 11, 2011 / Dave Gorham

It’s Raining WHAT?

[Originally published July 22, 2010.]

Raining marijuana? In a new spin on Depression-era song “Pennies from Heaven,” residents of the east Texas town of Caddo Mills are wondering if they should keep looking to the sky or begin planning the party.

It started early Monday morning when local police were alerted to a low-flying airplane, which was later found abandoned near the local airport. Meanwhile, residents began phoning police to report large black duffle bags landing on their roofs — duffels, it turned out, full of high-grade marijuana.

Small planes are often used to smuggle marijuana across borders. They’re easy and inexpensive to operate, they’re quiet (compared to larger aircraft), they can takeoff and land in many areas including grass and dirt fields, they’re common and don’t raise the attention of the authorities and when they’re eventually confiscated by the police they can be easily written off as part of the cost of doing business. Ironically, these same planes are popular with private, state and federal drug agencies when performing aerial reconnaissance for drug smugglers, marijuana fields and processing facilities. Photo: WFAA-TV

Meteorologically it’s nearly impossible for it to rain marijuana, though with conditions being just right I wouldn’t rule it out. It’s rained locusts and frogs. It’s rained mud. Of course, it’s rained cats and dogs before. And, according to Aretha Franklin, the Weather Girls and more, it’s even rained men.

Rain forms when water vapor condenses upon condensation nuclei forming liquid droplets. Condensation nuclei are small liquid or non-liquid particles about 1/100th the size of the forming rain droplet, or nearly .02 micrometer (.0002mm) in size. They are typically composed of dust, a variety of pollutants, salt (sea salt), or even volcanic ash. Without condensation nuclei water vapor would not be able to move from a gaseous state to a liquid state. As these droplets move through the atmosphere they fuse with other droplets, eventually becoming heavy enough to fall to the ground.

In the case of the raining marijuana in Caddo Mills, I don’t think a duffel of marijuana qualifies as a condensation nuclei (high-grade, or not). However, given the right circumstances — perhaps a distant burning field of pot — it’s entirely possible that falling rain could have a particular smell that might seem a bit unusual.

Raindrop. Image: Wikipedia

Raindrops:
A) Raindrops are not tear-drop shaped.
B) Small raindrops are typically round in shape.

C) Large raindrops become flattened on the bottom due to air resistance.

D, E) Large raindrops have a large amount of air resistance and will eventually break apart.

* Supercooled droplets can form without condensation nuclei transitioning from vapor to droplet spontaneously. Also, droplets can form without condensation nuclei in a super-saturated environment (400% RH).

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