Question

Why do planes shake and sometimes drop when it goes through clouds?

Well the other day when I was flying to texas we went through these big fluffy clouds at 37,000 feet. And the plane dropped...And not a little drop but like a few thousand feet... I'm scared to death of height so...I was freaking out big time! But I don't understand why that happens with just going through "water".Since clouds are just water and particles, why it there so much turbulence when we go through them? I thought you were supposed to slice through them like butter? lol

Answers

You do slice through clouds like butter. But you have the answer in your question. You are going through turbulence.

Clouds can be associated with convective activity which is characterized by unstable air masses of different temperatures moving in different directions.

Turbulence is highly irregular atmospheric motion characterized by rapid changes in wind speed and direction and by the presence, usually, of up and down currents. You can also get turbulence in clear air with no cloud evidence.

Turbulence is what you feel when you have a "bumpy" ride in a plane. It is a jostling around and feels unsteady. Air currents go up and down and it can feel like the airplane has dropped because it did. It hit a downdraft and went down a bit. It also can go up as well. If you're sitting in your seat, it may feel like you're in a car going through a lot of bad pot holes.

Aircraft are all designed to fly just fine through smooth air and turbulent air alike, just fasten your seat belt a little tighter when it is announced by the pilot. The aircraft will not fall out of the sky nor quit flying. Don't worry!

#1

All good answers. I doubt you dropped "thousands" of feet though. The reason why turbulence sometimes feels worse than it is in an airplane, is because an airplane rides smoother than a car over a roadway surface. When traveling down a road, you ALWAYS feel the road surface. However an airplane glides through the air almost perfectly smoothly if it is properly maintained. So as a passenger you are lulled into a state of having lost your feel, so to speak.....riding in a smooth airplane is a kind of "sensory deprivation" because it is so smooth. So when you hit turbulence, it probably feels a little worse than it actually is.

No matter what, the plane is only designed to handle so much stress on it's airframe. 3 and a half Gs or so and it's curtains....maybe a little more...but it never experiences more than it's design limit in turbulence. (if it did, you wouldn't be here to talk about it) If the pilots anticipate severe turbulence then they will slow it down to "turbulent air penetration speed"....250 knots or so...Pilots? Same with heavy rain....they will slow it down so the engines don't ingest too much water and flame-out. But anyway, that's my take on turbulence, adding to the many already good answers.

#2

that's the turbulance. and the thicker the cloud, the more the plane has a harder time getting through it.

#3

When flying in an aircraft, there is always a possibility of turbulence. The reason this happens when going through clouds is because the air in a cloud has a higher density than the air outside because of its high moisture content.

#4

When flying in an aircraft, there is always a possibility of turbulence. The reason this happens when going through clouds is because the air in a cloud has a higher density than the air outside because of its high moisture content.

#5

you're welcome!

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#6