Types of clouds

Clouds can make any scenery come alive. But have you ever wondered about the types of clouds? This article will take you through the different types of clouds classified on the basis of altitude.
A cloud is an accumulation of water droplets or ice crystals. Not all clouds bring precipitation. Some indicate weather and help in forecasting.

Types of clouds

  • High level clouds (5-15 km)
  • Mid level clouds (2-7 km)
  • Low level clouds (0-2 km)
  • Vertical clouds

High level clouds

Cirrus clouds

CIrrus clouds

These are thin hair like clouds completely made of ice crystals. Cirrus clouds are also known as ‘mare’s tail’ because of their appearance. These clouds indicate fair weather.
Altitude: 5 to 14 kilometers.


Cirrocumulus clouds

cirrocumulus clouds

These clouds have a patchy appearance. Sky with cirrocumulus clouds is known as a Mackerel sky. The rippling pattern of these clouds look like fish scales, hence the name mackerel (mackeral is a common name for pelagic fish). Cirrocumulus clouds are mainly made of ice crystals. However there is often a small amount of supercooled water also present.
Altitude: 5 to 15 kilometers.


Cirrostratus clouds

Cirrostratus clouds look like transparent thin sheets and are found at an altitude ranging from 6 to 13 kilometers. They are completely made of ice crystals. A halo is formed when the sun shines though these clouds.


Mid level clouds

Altocumulus clouds

Altocumulus clouds

Altocumulus are wool like clouds. They have a globular shape and form a Mackerel sky just like cirrocumulus clouds. However, altocumulus are darker and larger than cirrocumulus.
Altitude: 2 to 7 kilometers.


Altostratus clouds

Altostratus are sheet like clouds through which a faint sun can be seen depending on the transparency. The thicker the cloud, lesser the transparency. Altostratus clouds are gray or bluish green in colour.
Altostratus clouds are thicker and darker than cirrostratus clouds.
Altitude: 2 to 7 kilometers.


Low level clouds

Stratocumulus clouds

Stratocumulus clouds

These are bumpy, globular clouds with waves more pronounced than in altocumulus. They can bring light rain or snow.
Altitude: 0.5 to 2 kilometers.


Stratus clouds

Stratus clouds

These are low lying clouds generally having a dark gray to white colour. Fog at ground level is basically a stratus cloud.
Altitude: 0 to 2 kilometers.


Nimbostratus clouds

Nimbostratus clouds

These are dark clouds that bring continuous rain or snow. Nimbostratus clouds have multiple layers and are found at a maximum height of 6 kilometers from the surface.


Vertical clouds

Cumulus clouds

Cumulus clouds

These fair weather clouds have a fluffy cotton like appearance. Cumulus clouds have a flat horizontal base and they generally do not have a great vertical height.


Cumulonimbus clouds

cumulonimbus clouds

These are cumulus clouds with great vertical height. Often referred to as thunder clouds these clouds bring heavy rain that last for a maximum half hour.


Virga precipitation

Virga precipitation refers to the rain or snow that evaporates or sublimates before reaching the ground. Many high level clouds such as cirrocumulus produce virga precipitation.

This is the end of the article


Quick question

What is the position of Mars from the sun?


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Answer to quick question

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. To add, the position of all planets are as follows

  1. Mercury
  2. Venus
  3. Earth
  4. Mars
  5. Jupiter
  6. Saturn
  7. Uranus
  8. Neptune

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