cloud names and formations

Cloud Names & Types ☁️

Cloud Names List ☁️ Cloud Types, Groups & Cloud Formations 🌩️

The cloud names and types in use today date back to a book titled The Modifications of Clouds written in 1802 by amateur meteorologist Luke Howard who used latin words for the main cloud types; cirrus, stratus and cumulus. These were expanded to 10 cloud names and types, called genera which are still in use today, with some extensions by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

FAQs About Clouds and Cloud Formations

What Are the Ten Cloud Types and Groups?

The ten cloud types are: Cirrus, Cirrocumulus, Cirrostratus (high clouds), Altocumulus, Altostratus and Nimbostratus (medium clouds), Stratocumulus, Stratus, Cumulus, Cumulonimbus (low clouds).

Why do Clouds Appear to be White?

Because they are made from ice crystals which scatter the light into the seven wavelengths which fuse together and appear as white light. Cloud formations turn grey when they are thick enough to prevent all the light passing through them or when other nearby clouds cast their shadows on each other.

How do Clouds Form?

Clouds form when invisible water vapor in the air bumps into aerosols (dust) and condenses into water or ice. When the air is full of water vapor clouds form in one of two ways; either the water in the air increases, or the air cools to condensation (or dew) point so that it cannot hold any more water. Warm air can hold more water vapor.

  • ADDucation’s cloud names List was compiled by A C, last updated Dec 31, 2022 @ 3:05 pm.

ADDucation Tips: Click column headings with arrows to sort cloud names. Click the ➕ icon to show any hidden columns. Set your browser to full screen to show as many columns as possible. Start typing in the Filter table box to find anything inside the table of cloud names & types.

Key: CH=High clouds | CM=Medium clouds | CL=Low clouds

Cloud Names ☁️ Cloud Level: Height (ft) Height (m) Description of Cloud Types for Cloud Spotters:
Cirrus CH 20,000+ 6000+ Fine, wispy thin clouds made of ice crystals instead of water, which gives them their appearance.
Cirrostratus CH 20,000+ 6000+ Sheet-like clouds made of ice crystals that can cover the entire sky.
Cirrocumulus CH 20,000+ 6000+ Small, white clouds that look like fish scales lined up in a regular pattern, like small ripples. Sometimes called “Mackerel sky” for this reason. Called Schaefchenwolken in German which means “little sheep clouds”.
Altocumulus CM 6000-20,000 2000-6000 Gray fleecy clouds.
Altostratus CM 6000-20,000 2000-6000 Thin gray layers of clouds that sometimes bring rain.
Nimbostratus CM 6000-20,000 2000-6000 Mostly uniformly dark gray clouds with light to moderate precipitation (rain).
Stratus CL 6500- 2000- Gray, low-hanging rain clouds.
Cumulus CL 6500- 2000- Fair-weather clouds, cotton ball shaped with flattish bottoms.
Cumulonimbus CL 6500- 2000- Cumulonimbus can start near the ground but also grow to over 50,000 feet!
Stratocumulus CL 6500- 2000- Common lumpy white to dark gray clouds clumped together as a layer, often accompanied by light rain.

See also: Geographical Records… | How weather works…

Prefixes and Suffixes for Cloud Names

Cloud names often include a Latin prefix or suffix. These are the most commonly used with their meaning:

Cloud Types Translation Description
Cirrus Curl of hair High up and wispy
Cirro Curl of hair High up and wispy
Cumulus Heap Puffy
Cumulo Heap-like Puffy
Nimbus Rain Rain-bearing
Nimbo Rain-bearing Rain-bearing
Stratus Layer Flat and smooth
Strato Layer-like Flat and smooth

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