We usually do not see them appearing clouds in the sky. Especially dark and threatening thunderstorms we prefer not to be in our area. Clouds, however, do not always have to mean rain. You can see them in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they consist of ice crystals, sometimes from water droplets. Clouds may look threatening, or gray and gloomy. Sometimes they are very nice too.Scientists have classified clouds into a cloud classification system, used throughout the world in meteorology. Below we discuss the top ten of the most common clouds.
Cirrocumulus: high sheep clouds
Cirrocumulus clouds occur at an altitude of 5 to 12 kilometers in the atmosphere. These “sheep clouds” mainly contain ice crystals and, to a lesser extent, liquid water drops. These clouds often reflect the yellow and red sunlight during dawn and sunset. They often provide atmospheric scenes! With these clouds you do not have to expect a rain soon. Cirrocumulus, however, indicates increasing humidity and possible rainfall within 8 to 10 hours.
Cirrostratus: thin layers of clouds
Cirrostratus is a cloud type that consists of a thin layer, high in the atmosphere (10 to 15 kilometers).These clouds consist exclusively of ice crystals. The sun and the moon have no trouble shining through this type of cloud. The ice crystals in the cloud sometimes make it possible to see a “halo”, a lantern, to see the sun or the moon. There is no rain from the cirrostratus, but this type of cloud indicates a high humidity in the atmosphere.
Cirrus: the feather clouds
Rasbak / wikimedia
Cirrus occurs at an altitude of 6 to 12 kilometers. They are veil clouds. This cloud type allows the light of the sun to pass through easily. You do not need to fear rain from cirrus clouds, but cirrus clouds often indicate a weather deterioration. The clouds consist exclusively of ice crystals. Cirrus clouds appear to have a warming effect. Under cirrus clouds the temperature can even rise 10 degrees. Scientists are increasingly convinced that an increase in cirrus clouds contributes to global warming.
Nimbostratus: a layered cloud that brings rain
An outstretched gray cloud cover from which rain continues to fall: Sorry, we know this in our rainy country! The type of cloud in question is the so-called nimbostratus. The word ‘nimbus’ also means ‘rain cloud’. The sun can not shine through it anymore. These clouds are quite low: they are not over 2400 meters. A gray cloudy day where it does not want to stop raining? Chances are there is a nimbostratus over your head!
Altocumulus: medium-sized sheep clouds
Bidgee / wikimedia
Altocumulus occurs at an altitude of 2 to 6 kilometers. This cloud consists of separate “sheep clouds”, which are grouped into vast banks or fields. The individual clouds are larger and darker than cirrocumulus. In many cases this cloud is the forerunner of turbulent weather with much wind.
Altostratus: medium, gray layered clouds
Earth100 / wikimedia
This type of cloud occurs when warmer air slides over heavier cold air. On the border between hot and cold air, water vapor condenses into ice crystals and forms altostratus clouds. At altostratus clouds that are in shape, you can see the sun or the moon at first. Usually the cloud layer becomes fast so thick that no sun or moonlight penetrates through. Altostratus brings rain. In some cases, this kind of cloud changes in nimbostratus.
Cumulonimbus: the thunder cloud
Oscar den Uijl / wikimedia
In the commonly called ‘thunder cloud’, the cumulonimbus is often the forefront of thunder. These kinds of clouds are responsible for direct rain showers, so you have to hurry to shelter somewhere. This cloud can form in almost 30 minutes, after which the rain falls into bins from heaven. Cumulonimbus often occurs in tropical areas and can grow to a height of 15 kilometers.
Stratus clouds: gray and gloomy
These are low-hanging clouds, which appear as an even gray layer. Somber weather, you can expect this type of cloud. Often stratus clouds come together with mist and fog. Stratus clouds usually have drizzle or light rain, sometimes snowflakes. Not a direct weather forecast to look forward to!
Cumulus clouds: low-hanging pile clouds
They look like picks of cotton in the sky, the cumulus clouds. They arise due to rising hot air. For this reason pilots of gliders are heading towards cumulus clouds to know where there is an upward flow of warm air. The bottom of the cloud is usually darker, while the top is white. In most cases, cumulus clouds do not precipitate. However, if they grow up to the cumulonimbus thunder cloud, you’ll quickly find a place to hide.
Stratocumulus: low-lying clouds
Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr
Stratocumulus clouds consist of low clouds between which you can sometimes see the clear sky. A stratocumulus cloud is less than 2.5 kilometers. In the clouds clear and dark parts alternate.Stratocumulus is often confused with altocumulus. At altocumulus the clouds are seen from the ground, much smaller. When you point to the cloud with a stretched arm, a separate altocumulus cloud is the size of a thumbnail. At stratocumulus a separate cloud has the size of a fist. Intensive rainfall does not have to be expected from stratocumulus, but a slight mood can always be lost.
TOP 10 MOST COMMON CLOUDS EXPLAINED