All of us have looked at the clouds. Many of them appear white, sometimes fluffy, sometimes as thin as a wisp, sometimes black. Based on the color of clouds, we predict the weather for the day. But have you ever looked at all the clouds and wondered just how many different types of clouds we encounter everyday and we just categorize them as black and white.

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So, today let us look at the categorization of various kinds of clouds that exist and see what they predict about our day.

Clouds are at the basic level subdivided into 3 categories-

  1. High clouds- They occur between 20,000-40,000 feet above the sea level. They mainly occur in a feathery form. (very high above the ground. Air has less molecules of water vapor as well as possible nuclei for cloud formation. Air molecules are scattered ). These clouds do not bring rainfall.
  2. Medium clouds- They occur in the range of 10,000-20,000 feet above the sea level. They occur as clusters of clouds and can bring rainfall and snow.
  3. Low clouds- Occur in the range of 6,500-10,000 feet. These clouds mainly block sunlight ans can cause light drizzle/mist. Ever seen clouds appear beneath you from a mountain top?

The high clouds have 3 kinds of cloud varieties-

  1. Cirrus- Thin, wispy, fibrous clouds that appear in bright blue sky are cirrus. They barely dim the sunlight though. They are made of tiny ice crystals that scatter the sunlight , thereby making the clouds appear orange or yellow, making for a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
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2. Cirrocumulus- Very high cumulus clouds that appear as white globular masses forming ripples.

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3. Cirrostratus- A stratus cloud (horizontal layering with uniform base), it occurs in the from of a thin white sheet or veil and provides the sky a milky texture, making the sun/moon shine with a characteristic ‘halo’.

The ‘mid-level clouds have 3 varieties-

  1. Altocumulus- These are the wooly bumpy clouds that occur in layers. They look like waves in blue sky. Can cover the sky occasionally.
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2. Altostratus- These are denser grayish clouds and have a watery look.

3. Nimbostratus- ‘Nimbo’ means precipitating. These clouds are associated either with rain or snow and are dark-dull layered clouds.

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The low level clouds have 3 sub-types-

  1. Stratus- These are very low clouds. Uniformly grey, thick clouds, they cause light drizzle an dull weather. They also reduce aircraft visibility and are the cause of highland fog.
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2. Cumulus-These are vertical clouds with rounded top and horizontal base and occur in humid tropical regions. Formed due to up-rising conventional currents. It ight appear grey against the sun but it is a fair weather cloud.

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3. Stratocumulus- These are rough, bumpy clouds and have waves more pronounced than Altocumulus cloud.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on

There is one another type of cloud associated with cyclonic conditions, lightening and thunderstorm, known as cumulonimbus cloud. These are overgrown cumulus clouds that are formed between 2,000-30,000 feet high. Formed in tropical afternoons, these are black in color and usually seen in equators and in sub-tropical regions(during summers).

Photo by Flash Dantz on

This is all about clouds. The next time you are on your rooftop, you have something to keep you busy and you can’t disagree, looking at clouds is interesting.