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Cloud Types

 

 

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Cloud: visible collection of tiny water droplets or ice particles or both, suspended in air above Earth. Have same composition of fog but suspended higher in air.

Cirro - high clouds, base starting above 6000 m

Alto - middle elevation clouds, base between 2000 to 6000 m

Stato - below 2000 m

Clouds are classified by shape and altitude
Shape depends largely on how the cloud was formed.
Most common clouds are stratus, cumulus, and cirrus.

Cirrostratus:

High clouds that look like fine veils
Made of ice crystals - to form halos around moon or sun
Usually indicate fair weather
May also signal approaching storm

Cirrus:

White, thin, fibrous, wispy clouds
Form in small patches, bands, or streaks
Usually found above 20000 feet
Composed entirely of ice crystals because of low temperature

Cumulonimbus:

Produce lightning, thunder, heavy rain, hail, strong winds, and tornadoes
Tallest of all clouds
Extend above 60000 feet
Usually large anvil shape tops because of stronger winds at those levels of atmosphere
Sometimes have appendages protruding from base of cloud - mammatus - resembles mammary glands of mammals
Indication of severe weather
Indicates atmosphere is unstable

Cirrocumulus:

10000 to 30000 feet high
Thin ice crystal clouds
Look like fine sand ripples made by waves on a beach
"Mackeral sky" used to describe these clouds

Alto-cumulus:

Cauliflower shaped
Has thin edges
Elevation of 6,500 to 20,000 feet
White or gray in color

Alto-stratus:

Form gray or hazel sheets
Elevation of 6,500 to 20,000feet
Sometimes thin sometimes thick

Strato-cumulus:

Low gray flat clouds
Form in wide spread layers
Rain, sleet, snow and hail can come from these clouds
Often seen with fair blue skies

Nimbus:

Gray rain cloud
No sun light can shine through this cloud

Nimbostratus

Usually bring long, steady rain
One of the lowest clouds
Usually dark colored
Sometimes combine with cumulonimbus
Considered multi-layered

Cumulus:

One of most common clouds
Puffy with noticeable edges much like a cotton ball
Popcorn-like shape
Indicate that sunny skies are coming

Stratus:

The lowest clouds
Faded edges
Dull, gray and cover most of the sky
Indicate that clear skies are coming