CLOUD-BURST, a sudden and violent storm of rain. The name probably originated from the idea that the clouds were solid masses full of water that occasionally burst with disastrous results. A whirlwind passing over the sea sometimes carries the water upwards in a whirling vortex; passing over the land its motion is checked and a deluge of water falls. Occasionally on high lands far from the sea violent storms occur, with rain that seems to descend in sheets, sweeping away bridges and culverts and tearing up roads and streets, being due to great and rapid condensation and vortical whirling of the resulting heavy clouds (see Meteorology).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)