WW2010
University of Illinois

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Effects of Cloud Cover
on forecasted temperatures

During the day, the earth is heated by the sun. If skies are clear, more heat reaches the earth's surface (as in the diagram below). This leads to warmer temperatures.


However, if skies are cloudy, some of the sun's rays are reflected off the cloud droplets back into space. Therefore, less of the sun's energy is able to reach the earth's surface, which causes the earth to heat up more slowly. This leads to cooler temperatures.


Forecast Tip:
When forecasting daytime temperatures, if cloudy skies are expected, forecast lower temperatures than you would predict if clear skies were expected.


At night cloud cover has the opposite effect. If skies are clear, heat emitted from the earth's surface freely escapes into space, resulting in colder temperatures.


However, if clouds are present, some of the heat emitted from the earth's surface is trapped by the clouds and reemitted back towards the earth. As a result, temperatures decrease more slowly than if the skies were clear.


Forecast Tip:
When forecasting nighttime temperatures, if cloudy skies are expected, forecast warmer temperatures than you would predict if clear skies were expected.


Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.