Greensboro, NC -- Our own Frank Mickens came to Meteorologist Grant Gilmore with a question about the weather and he asked, "What is the name of the cloud that forms behind a jet airplane?"
The answer is CONdensation TRAIL, or contrail. The contrail forms when the hot and humid air from the exhaust of the jet engine mixes with the flight level air. At high altitudes the air temperature where jet airplanes cruse can reach temperatures cooler than -40°F. As the hot and humid air mixes with this cold air the water vapor in the exhaust condenses (coverts from gas to a liquid) and the contrail becomes visible.
Sometimes conditions are too dry for contrails to form and the cloud will not form. If conditions are just right, however, contrails can remain in the sky for long periods of time and spread out across the sky in the direction of the prevailing winds.
If you have a weather question to ask Grant find him on facebook, twitter or send him and email and he could answer your question live in the 2 Wants To Know Newscast.
WFMY News 2