An overview of the formation and qualities of different cloud types

Place your hand up to the sky and in the direction of the cloud; if the mound is the size of your thumb, it's altocumulus.

Types of clouds and their meanings

How do clouds float? Remember that clouds form when rising warm air cools. In sections three to five, terrestrial clouds are listed in descending order of the altitude range of each atmospheric layer in which clouds can form: mesospheric layer; tropospheric layer. When nimbostratus appears, it's time to curl up with a big, thick Russian novel. Other variations include, "Mackerel scales, furl your sails," and, "A mackerel sky, not 24 hours dry. As a nice piece of trivia, cirrostratus clouds almost always move in a westerly direction. When You'll See Them Cumulonimbus clouds are thunderstorm clouds, so if you see one you can be sure there's a nearby threat of severe weather short but heavy periods of rainfall, hail , and possibly even tornadoes. The accumulated heat of the day will radiate from the earth, and the temperature near the ground cools. Meteorologica was based on intuition and simple observation, but not on what is now considered the scientific method. Although all fog can creep along on little cat feet, many types of fog exist. These gloomy clouds are the heavy rain bearers out there forming thick and dark layers of clouds that can completely block out the sun. Ever see one that looks like undulating waves? Many water droplets formed together scatter reflect sunlight and you see a white could, but with a dark or gray cloud, the sunlight is scattered in all directions instead of reflected.

Cumulonimbus Weather-Watch The earliest sky watchers said, "Mackerel sky and mare's tails make lofty ships carry low sails. From that word came the modern term meteorologythe study of clouds and weather. See also:.

cloud types with pictures

It is specified that these very large cumuliform and cumulonimbiform types must be identified by their standard names or abbreviations in all aviation observations METARS and forecasts TAFS to warn pilots of possible severe weather and turbulence.

Cumulus mediocris — As the name implies, these clouds are just as wide as they are tall.

How many types of clouds are there

Stratocumuliform and stratiform clouds in the high altitude range carry the prefix cirro-, yielding the respective genus names cirrocumulus Cc and cirrostratus Cs. These nuclei are everywhere in the atmosphere. Low clouds fall into four divisions: cumulus, stratus, cumulonimbus, and stratocumulus. When You'll See Them Cirrus typically occur in fair weather. They can cause violent thunderstorms with heavy rain, hail, and even tornadoes. High-level clouds Cirrus clouds, El Calafate, Argentina. You can easily distinguish a stratus cloud by the long horizontal layers of cloud which have a fog-like appearance. Ever see one that looks like undulating waves? They are big, white, puffy, and beautiful clouds. They often form along a high altitude jetstream [41] and at the very leading edge of a frontal or low-pressure disturbance where they may merge into cirrostratus. These clouds are dark and seen during a thunderstorm along with thunder and lightning. The base is well-defined and flat but the upper part of the cloud is ragged due to convection with the cloud itself. The cumulus genus includes four species as defined by vertical size and structure.

Credit: Pixabay. Their bottoms are often hazy and dark.

3 types of clouds

High level cirrus clouds may travel at speeds up to mph. This entire fog category is called advection fog because warm air is advected, or brought to, colder regions. You can find them virtually everywhere in the world expected for the Polar regions. Altostratus species Mammatus clouds in the Nepal Himalayas. That process of overturning from heating is called convection. For the first time, precipitation and the clouds from which precipitation fell were called meteors, which originate from the Greek word meteoros, meaning 'high in the sky'. The "alto" clouds fall in this category: altostratus and altocumulus. They are often composed of mostly water droplets. These are the ones associated with strong upward atmospheric currents.

He believed that the changing cloud forms in the sky could unlock the key to weather forecasting. Those are called mammatus clouds.


Their tops are rounded, puffy, and a brilliant white when sunlit, while their bottoms are flat and relatively dark. Fog that develops over the ocean and in coastal areas often forms in a similar way. Because cirrus clouds appear above 20, feet 6, m —an altitude where low temperatures and low water vapor exist—they are made up of tiny ice crystals rather than water droplets. They usually mean good weather unless they grow really tall and turn into cumulonimbus clouds. You'll recognize them as white or gray patches that dot the sky in large, rounded masses or clouds that are aligned in parallel bands. Varying levels of illuminations and thicknesses of cloud can lead to dramatic visual effects. Cirrocumulus - These are high clouds that look like tiny cotton balls bunched together. When altocumulus appears with another cloud type at the same time, storm normally follows.
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Types of Clouds for Kids