The Ten Different Types Of Clouds

Clouds are often overlooked, its easy to forget that there are so many types. I genuinely did not know about Cirrus clouds signalling a change for the worse weather wise; so thanks very much for sharing. Stratus clouds are thick, gray clouds that look like fog that hasn’t touched the ground. In fact, these clouds sometimes are made up of fog that has lifted from the ground.

  • 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.
  • The exception of Nimbostratus are typically considered to be more “low-level” due to its lowering base.
  • Sort of like a spec of dust that you see floating in the air.
  • Except for virga they are non-fibrous and may or may not be merged.

Knowing how they form, their altitude levels , and what makes each cloud type unique and different from one another will also be helpful. Cirrocumulus clouds Software system are much smaller than most other types of clouds, and they are sometimes called cloudlets. They are found at high altitudes and are made of ice crystals.

Nomenclature works the same way as for genitus mother clouds except for the mutatus suffix to indicate the complete rather than the partial transformation of the original cloud type. Altocumulomutatus – formed by the complete transformation of altocumulus mother cloud. This upward forcing of the air is called orographic lifting, which is basically a fancy term for when the topography of the land pushes air to a higher altitude. This process often forms stratus clouds and lenticular clouds, especially on warm, sunny days in the summer months.

Stratus clouds often produce a light, drizzly rain or snow, especially when it’s a nimbostratus cloud. Scientists have developed a system to classify the different types of clouds. Each cloud you see can be put into one of the many categories based on both their general shape and how high up they are in the atmosphere. Altostratus – Medium level clouds that form a dark gray covering. At these lower heights, the clouds consist mainly of water droplets.

Summary: What Are The Types Of Clouds?

Altocumulus clouds are generally quite thin and they’re usually composed of both water droplets and ice. For the most part, these clouds form as cirrostratus from higher in the troposphere descends down to a lower altitude.

10 cloud types

Once you understand how clouds form through surface heating, you’re in a good position to understand how cloud formation through low pressure works, too. Finally, we can categorize clouds based on any supplementary features or accessory clouds that they might have.

Cirrostratus

The puffy, mound-shaped clouds that you see on sunny days, cumulus clouds are normally white or light grey. Both these cloud types have similar wispy shapes, but cirrostratus clouds cover much more of the sky compared to cirrus clouds. If there is heavy rain or snow, there is likely a nimbostratus cloud above. The dark, low-level cloud can hang as low as one mile above Earth’s surface. While a nimbostratus produces heavy precipitation, it does not create lightning or thunder. This type of cloud is often vast, with no seen edges, and fills up the sky during heavy rain or snow storms. With no clearly defined shape, the dense, dark layers of a nimbostratus can be hard to spot.

10 cloud types

This gives the clouds that puffy look, which grows upwards as the air currents rise. If the atmosphere is unstable and the cloud gets very tall, these clouds can get many thousands of feet tall. Luckily, they aren’t hard to learn because they are categorized in a very logical order. Once you learn a few basic definitions, you’ll be identifying every cloud in the sky with no problems. Learn how to identify cloud types by using the flow chart from the International Cloud Atlas.

Lenticularis – Any type of wide, smooth cloud that takes on a round shape, much like the lens of a set of eyeglasses. Lenticularis or “lenticular” clouds are usually found in the genera altocumulus, cirrocumulus, and stratocumulus. That being said, Howard’s cloud classification scheme provides types of software development a more robust set of guidelines for naming and identifying all cloud types. It has since been adopted by the World Meteorological Organization as part of their cloud atlas. Technically speaking mammatus clouds are a supplementary feature of clouds rather than their own cloud type.

Learn More About Clouds

From the World Meteorological Organization’s International Cloud Atlas, the official worldwide standard for clouds, the following are definitions of the ten basic cloud types. In this guide, we show you all the steps to becoming a cloud-identifying expert.

10 cloud types

It is important to remember that these are basic cloud types and it is possible that naturecan provide several different cloud combinations within a single day or even hour. However, these combinations always refer back to the basi cloud types. Within each cloud form, clouds are further defined by the altitude for which they normally exist. These altitudes are high , middle (6,500-20,000 feet), low (2,000-6,500 feet), and very low . A cloud is a meteorological term used to describe a visible collection of tiny water droplets, ice crystals and other particles suspended in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. We hope these facts about clouds are helpful and help you learn more about this fascinating metrological event.

Cloud Names

As a nice piece of trivia, cirrostratus clouds almost always move in a westerly direction. The sight of them usually means rainfall is imminent in the next 24 hours. Altocumulus castellanus – castle crenellation-shaped altocumulus clouds. Clouds of the genus stratocumulus are lumpy, often forming in slightly unstable air, and they can produce very light rain or drizzle. Clouds that form in the mesosphere come in a variety of forms such as veils, bands, and billows, but are not given Latin names based on those characteristic. They are sub-classified alpha-numerically and with common terms according to specific details of their physical structures.

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These funnel clouds form when a rotating column of air extends out of the base of a cloud, often due to very strong updrafts and downdrafts of air. One of the most recognizable types of clouds, lenticular clouds are lentil or almond-shaped clouds that form in the lower to middle parts of the troposphere. These clouds often resemble flying saucers and they are technically a variant of either an altocumulus, stratocumulus, or cirrocumulus cloud. Once we move into the highest level of the troposphere, there are three main types of clouds that you ought to look out for. Due to their high altitude, these cloud types are almost always composed of ice crystals. They also tend to look very small to the human eye as they are located so far above the Earth’s surface.

Optics & Other Formations

The sunlit parts of these clouds are mostly brilliant white while their bases are relatively dark and horizontal. They can also form out ahead of warm fronts and large-scale storms like nor’easters and tropical cyclones, so seeing them can also indicate storms may be coming. Altostratus tend to form ahead of a warm or occluded front. They can also occur together with cumulus at a cold front. You’ll see them whenever steady rain or snow is falling over a widespread area.

10 cloud types

Clouds of the genus nimbostratus tend to bring constant precipitation and low visibility. This cloud type normally forms above 2 kilometres from altostratus cloud but tends to thicken into the lower levels during the occurrence of precipitation. The top of a nimbostratus deck is usually in the middle level of the troposphere. High clouds form in the highest and coldest region of the troposphere from about 5 to 12 km in temperate latitudes. At this altitude water almost always freezes so high clouds are generally composed of ice crystals or supercooled water droplets. In section six, the cloud types in the general lists and the mother clouds in the applicable classification table are sorted in alphabetical order except where noted.

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