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How Many Types of Clouds Are There

The foundation consists of 10 major cloud types. In addition to cirrus, stratus, cumulus, and nimbus clouds, there are cirrostratus, cirrocumulus, altostratus, altocumulus, stratocumulus, nimbostratus, and cumulonimbus clouds.

List of different clouds

Altocumulus

Altocumulus is a cloud belonging to a class characterized by globular masses or rolls in layers or patches, the individual elements being larger and darker than those of cirrocumulus and smaller than those of stratocumulus.

Altostratus

Altostratus is a cloud belonging to a class characterized by a generally uniform gray to bluish-gray sheet or layer, lighter in color than nimbostratus and darker than cirrostratus. The sun can be seen through thin altostratus, but thicker layers can be quite opaque.

Cirrocumulus

Cirrocumulus clouds are one of the three main types of high-altitude clouds, which also includes cirrus clouds and cirrostratus clouds. They usually occur at an altitude of 5 kilometres (16,000 ft) to 12 kilometres (39,000 ft). Like other cumulus clouds, cirrocumulus clouds signify convection. Unlike other cirrus clouds, cirrocumulus include a small amount of liquid water droplets, although these are in a supercooled state.

Cirrostratus

Cirrostratus  clouds are thin, generally uniform clouds, composed of ice-crystals. They are difficult to detect and if capable of forming halos the cloud takes the form of thin cirrostratus nebulosus. The cloud has a fibrous texture with no halos if it is thicker cirrostratus fibratus. On the approach of a frontal system, the cirrostratus often begins as nebulosus and turns to fibratus. If the cirrostratus begins as fragmented fibratus it often means the front is weak. Cirrostratus is usually located above 5.5 km (18,000 ft). Its presence indicates a large amount of moisture in the upper atmosphere.

Cirrus

Cirrus clouds are a genus of atmospheric clouds generally characterized by thin, wispy strands, giving them their name from the Latin word cirrus meaning a ringlet or curling lock of hair. The strands of cloud sometimes appear in tufts of a distinctive form referred to by the common name of mares’ tails.

Cumulonimbus

Cumulonimbus is a towering vertical cloud that is very tall, dense, and involved in thunderstorms and other inclement weather. Cumulonimbus originates from Latin: Cumulus “heap” and nimbus “cloud”. It is a result of atmospheric instability. These clouds can form alone, in clusters, or along a cold front in a squall line. They can create lightning and other dangerous weather. Cumulonimbus clouds form from cumulus clouds (namely from cumulus congestus) and can further develop into a supercell, a severe thunderstorm with special features.

Cumulus

Cumulus clouds are a type of cloud with noticeable vertical development and clearly defined edges. Cumulus means “heap” or “pile” in Latin. They are often described as “puffy” or “cotton-like” in appearance. Cumulus clouds may appear alone, in lines, or in clusters. Cumulus clouds are often precursors of other types of clouds, such as cumulonimbus, when influenced by weather factors such as instability, moisture, and temperature gradient. Cumulus clouds are part of the larger category of cumuliform clouds, which include cumulus, cumulus congestus, and cumulonimbus clouds, among others. The most intense cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds may be associated with severe weather phenomena such as hail, waterspouts and tornadoes.

Nimbostratus

A nimbostratus cloud is characterized by a formless cloud layer that is almost uniformly dark gray. “Nimbo” is from the Latin word “nimbus”, which denotes precipitation. It is generally a stratiform cloud of moderate vertical development (family D1) that produces precipitation, developing cloud bases between the surface and about 10000 ft (3000 m). This cloud typically forms from altostratus in the middle altitude range then subsides into the low altitude range during precipitation. Nimbostratus usually has a thickness of about 2000 meters. Though found worldwide, nimbostratus is found more commonly in the middle latitudes.

Stratocumulus

A stratocumulus cloud belongs to a class of clouds characterized by large dark, rounded masses, usually in groups, lines, or waves, the individual elements being larger than those in altocumuli, and the whole being at a lower altitude, usually below 2,400 m (8,000 ft). Weak convective currents create shallow cloud layers because of drier, stable air above preventing continued vertical development.

Stratus

A stratus cloud is a cloud belonging to a class characterized by horizontal layering with a uniform base, as opposed to convective clouds that are as tall or taller than wide (these are termed cumulus clouds). More specifically, the term stratus is used to describe flat, hazy, featureless clouds of low altitude varying in color from dark gray to nearly white. Stratus clouds may produce a light drizzle or snow. A “cloudy day” usually features a sky filled with stratus clouds obscuring the disk of the sun. These clouds are essentially above-ground fog formed either through the lifting of morning fog or when cold air moves at low altitudes over a region.

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