cloud names and formations

Cloud Names & Types ☁️

List of all Cloud Names ☁️ Cloud Types & Formations 🌩️

In his 1802 book The Modifications of Clouds amateur meteorologist, Luke Howard, came up with cloud names that are still in use today, albeit with some subsequent extensions by the World Meteorological Organization.

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 can’t hold any more water. Warm air can hold more water vapor.

FAQs About 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.

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Cloud Names ☁️ Cloud Level Height (ft) Height (m) Description of Cloud Types for Cloud Spotters:
Cirrus High clouds 20,000+ 6000+ Fine, wispy thin clouds made of ice crystals instead of water, which gives them their appearance.
Cirrostratus High 20,000+ 6000+ Sheet-like clouds made of ice crystals that can cover the entire sky.
Cirrocumulus High 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 Medium 6000-20,000 2000-6000 Gray fleecy clouds.
Altostratus Medium 6000-20,000 2000-6000 Thin gray layers of clouds that sometimes bring rain.
Nimbostratus Medium clouds 6000-20,000 2000-6000 Mostly uniformly dark gray clouds with light to moderate precipitation.
Stratus Low 6500- 2000- Gray, low-hanging rain clouds.
Cumulus Low 6500- 2000- Fair-weather clouds, cotton ball shaped with flattish bottoms.
Cumulonimbus Low clouds 6500- 2000- Cumulonimbus can start near the ground but also grow to over 50,000 feet!
Stratocumulus Low 6500- 2000- Common lumpy white to dark gray clouds clumped together as a layer, often accompanied by light rain.

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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