September 27, 2010

Cloud Types

I have my first Meteorology test tomorrow and I'm struggling to remember my cloud types, so I'm going to put them in writing and share them with you.   Lets start with the high clouds.  Cirrus, Cirrostratus, and Cirrocumulus. All are at the very top of the Thermosphere and are made up of ice crystals.  Its too cold for water not to be frozen up there.  They are usually very "whispy" looking and precede or follow a weather system. Next are the mid level clouds.  Altocumulus and Altostratus. These are liquid water vapor clouds and are generally non threatening looking. You can usually see blue sky between these clouds. We continue to descend as we start to see the stratus cloud type.  Also including cumulostratus and nimbostratus.  Stratus clouds and their ilk tend to be rain clouds. Nimbostratus cover the whole sky in grey and don't appear to have a defining shape. People often mistake a low hanging bank of stratus cloud for "lifting fog" as they are very similar in makeup.  Lastly we cover the clouds that grow from the ground to the top of the Troposphere, the cumulus family.  Regular cumulus clouds are generally small and broken up in nature, they tend to be what people call "fair weather clouds", but as they grow, conditions tend to deteriorate.  Cumulus clouds can grow in to towering cumulus(thunderheads), or even cumulonimbus which are widely known as thunderstorm clouds.   So there you have it, a "vertical tour" of cloud types from top to bottom..Cirrus at the top, cumulus at the bottom. Enjoy!


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