• Clouds are made of tiny bits
of water and ice that would
be invisible if they were
viewed individually (they are
100 times smaller than a
• How many particles actually
form together is what
determines the size of the
cloud and therefore the
TYPE of the cloud as well
• Clouds form when the
air cools and water
vapor condenses into a
• Clouds are formed
when the air moves in a
VERTICAL direction
(which would be if they were
moving like a train does,
across a service, not up or
• Clouds form at three different levels
• Clouds are made in different shapes and size but are
always the color white even though sometimes they
appear to us to be in different colors (their shade and
the level of the sun effect the color we see in clouds)
• Each type of Cloud is specific to a height level
• Clouds usually occur within the TROPOSHPERE which
is an area of the atmosphere way above earth
~ A British
Pharmacist was the
first man to give cloud
types names.
The names that he
created which are still
used today are
• Clouds can be sorted
into three types:
– Low-level Clouds
– Mid-level clouds
– High Clouds
Clouds can be classified by their shape and height
Flat, spread out clouds
Fluffy, lumpy, heap clouds
Wispy, curly, feathery clouds
large piles of white clouds that can billow high in
the sky; they appear during fair weather
gray layers of cumulus clouds that may
cover the whole sky; they do not usually bring rain
dark towering clouds; they are known as
thunderclouds because they bring thunderstorms
thick, low sheet-like clouds that cover the sky
and are a sign of rainy weather
sheets of gray, dark clouds that bring
falling rain or snow
Low clouds are of mostly composed of water droplets since their bases
generally lie below 6,500 feet. However, when temperatures are cold
enough, these clouds may also contain ice particles and snow.
Fair weather cumulus clouds are fueled by buoyant bubbles of air that rise
upward from the earth's surface. As they rise, the water vapor within cools and
condenses forming cloud droplets. Evaporation along the cloud edges cools the
surrounding air, making it heavier and producing sinking motion or outside the
Without a continued
supply of rising air,
the cloud begins to
erode and eventually
Cumulus clouds are usually very isolated with large areas of blue sky in between the
clouds. Most cumulus clouds form below 6,000 feet and associated with fair weather.
However, when the atmosphere becomes unstable and very strong, upward air
currents form, cumulus clouds can grow into towering cumulus. If the atmosphere is
unstable enough, cumulonimbus clouds form, (better known as thunderstorms).
Cumulonimbus clouds can tower from below 6,000 feet to greater than 50,000 feet.
~ puffy cotton balls floating in the sky
Fair weather cumulus have the appearance of floating cotton and have a lifetime of
5-40 minutes. Known for their flat bases and distinct outlines, fair weather cumulus
exhibit only slight vertical growth, with the cloud tops designating the limit of the
rising air. Given suitable conditions, however, harmless fair weather cumulus can
later develop into towering cumulonimbus clouds associated with powerful
~ low, lumpy layer of clouds
Stratocumulus clouds generally appear as a low, lumpy layer of clouds that is
sometimes accompanied by weak intensity precipitation. Stratocumulus vary in color
from dark gray to light gray and may appear as rounded masses, rolls, etc., with
breaks of clear sky in between.
Stratus clouds are uniform grayish clouds that
often cover the entire sky. They resemble fog
that does not reach the ground. Usually no
precipitation falls from stratus clouds, but
sometimes they may drizzle.
When a thick fog
"lifts," the resulting
clouds are low stratus.
Nimbostratus clouds form a
dark gray, "wet" looking cloudy
layer associated with
continuously falling rain or snow.
They often produce precipitation
that is usually light to moderate.
rounded heaps of white or
grayish clouds that look fleecy; they may bring rain
grayish-white sheet of clouds that
often makes the sky look watery; usually no rain or
snow falls
"Alto" Clouds
Clouds with the prefix "alto" are
middle level clouds that have bases
between 6500 to 23,000 ft.
Because of their lower altitudes,
they are composed primarily of
water droplets, however, they can
also be composed of ice crystals
when temperatures are cold
Since the individual elements of stratocumulus are larger than those of altocumulus,
one can easily decipher between the two cloud types by extending your arm toward
the sky. Altocumulus elements are about the size of a thumb nail while stratocumulus
are about the size of a fist.
Altocumulus clouds are composed primarily of water droplets and are
located between 6,500 and 20,000 feet above the ground.
Altostratus clouds are gray or blue-gray
middle level clouds composed of ice
crystals and water droplets. These clouds
usually cover the entire sky. Altostratus
clouds often form ahead of storms that will
produce continuous precipitation.
thin, wispy white clouds made of ice
crystals; they can be seen when the weather will
rippling rows of white fleecy
clouds; they can be a sign that a storm is approaching
“see-through” white clouds that
may cover the whole sky; they can be a sign of a storm
High-level clouds form above 20,000
feet and since the temperatures are
so cold at such high elevations, these
clouds are primarily composed of ice
High-level clouds are typically thin
and white in appearance, but can
appear in a magnificent array of
colors when the sun is low on the
~ thin and wispy
The most common form of high-level clouds are thin and often wispy cirrus clouds.
Typically found at heights greater than 20,000 feet. Cirrus clouds are composed of
ice crystals that originate from the freezing of supercooled water droplets. Cirrus
generally occur in fair weather and point in the direction of air movement at their
Cirrus clouds are thin, wispy clouds blown by high winds into long streamers.
Cirrus clouds usually move across the sky from west to east.
Cirrocumulus clouds appear
as small, rounded white puffs.
The small ripples in the
cirrocumulus sometimes
resemble the scales of a fish. A
sky with cirrocumulus clouds is
sometimes referred to as a
"mackerel sky."
Cirrostratus Clouds ~ sheet-like and nearly transparent
Cirrostratus are sheet-like, high-level clouds composed of ice crystals. Though
cirrostratus can cover the entire sky and be up to several thousand feet thick, they
are relatively transparent, as the sun or the moon can easily be seen through
• Clouds have a lot to do with the weather that
we experience on earth.
• The sun makes earth warmer and when there
are many clouds the sun is blocked which
cools the earth.
• Clouds bring rain, snow, hail and other sorts
• When you see a STRATUS cloud you can expect
drizzle or light rain
• A STRATOCUMULUS cloud means snow or drizzle
are on their way
• ALTOCUMULUS clouds can tell us that the weather
may change within the next few days but do not
indicate an immediate weather condition
• CUMULONIMBUS clouds often bring thunderstorms
Low and flat …..
Middle level,
fluffy …..
Alto -Cumulus
High level,
wispy …..
Rain bearing,
storm clouds.

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