The water cycle describes the constant, circular flow of water throughout the earth and its atmosphere. Since water is such a versatile compound, it travels through the earth and atmosphere in three different states: solid (ice), liquid (water), and gas (steam). Because the water cycle is a circle, it doesn't have a technical beginning or end, so I will begin my description at the process I believe is most appropriate to begin at in order to properly explain the complete function of the water cycle.
At a point when water is in liquid form, the sun's rays heat it up until eventually the water evaporates into a gas. Once transformed into vapor, the water is light enough to float upward toward the sky. As the vapor reaches the sky, it progresses to the following stage of the water cycle called condensation. In the stage of condensation, the vapor transforms into liquid water droplets that form clouds and fog in the air. After several water droplets form in the clouds, they begin to get heavy and sink closer to the earth. These are the low-hanging grey clouds, known as nimbus clouds, that are typically seen before a rainstorm.
Finally, when the clouds get too heavy, rain is produced and then we enter another section of the cycle known as precipitation. Precipitation typically comes in either of the following four states: rain, sleet, hail or snow. These states are dependent on the current weather conditions at the time the precipitation occurs. Once the precipitation falls to the ground, the cycle begins all over again and prepares for the following step of evaporation once again.
The steps of the water cycle are often depicted on a water cycle diagram. These diagrams usually have a simple picture of the earth and the sky with arrows and pictures of the states of water and its path. These diagrams make it more clear that the system truly does work as a cycle and it underlies a sort of natural circle of life throughout the earth. The earth has many amazing ways of purifying our energy resources and supplying them to us. The water cycle is a perfect example of this.