If I asked you to draw a raindrop, you would likely produce something similar to those pictured above.


What You Need To Know

  • Raindrops are not teardrop-shaped

  • Small raindrops are spheres

  • Medium raindrops morph to look like hamburger buns

  • Larger raindrops open up like a parachute and break apart

But what if I told you that classic teardrop shape wasn't the shape of a raindrop at all? What if I told you raindrops were more reminiscent of a hamburger bun or a parachute?

It's not as far-fetched as it sounds! The shape of a raindrop is dependent on its size, so let's break it down.

Small Raindrops

Small raindrops have a radius of less than 1 millimeter.

Their shape is simple: spherical.

Medium Raindrops

Medium raindrops have a radius between 1 and 4 millimeters.

This is where things get a bit more interesting. As raindrops get bigger, their surface tension weakens, which means they become more malleable.

As the raindrop falls, the force of air pushing upward flattens the bottom, and it takes on a hamburger bun appearance.


Courtesy: NASA

Large Raindrops

Large raindrops have a radius greater than 4 millimeters.

Keep in mind that bigger raindrops fall faster. The bottom of the raindrop sees more force the faster it falls, which flattens the raindrop even more.

At this point, you have a water droplet that has thinned out enough for the bottom to push upward and taken on the shape of an open parachute.


Courtesy: USGS

It then almost instantaneously breaks apart into smaller raindrops.

It's similar to blowing a bubble but having that bubble burst before it can fully form.

I imagine your mind is now blown, just like those large raindrops, because since grade school, we've all had this preconceived idea of how a raindrop looks.

Oh, how wrong we have all been, but like most things in life, one size and shape doesn't fit all, even when it comes to raindrops.