The clouds above: Part Three

Everything you need to know about clouds – the continuing story!

Everything you need to know about clouds

August 13, 2018.

Cloud species

Cloud genera are divided into species to account for their particular shape and internal structure. Certain species only appear within specific genera, but many species are common to multiple genera. Clouds are identified by their genus and then their species, e.g., cirrius fibratus or altocumulus stratiformis.

Cirrus fibratus are easy to pick out in the sky. (Photo: Ximonic/Wikimedia Commons)

1. Fibratus. A thin veil of clouds, fibratus clouds are either cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Unlike most cirrus clouds, however, fibratus clouds do not have tufts or hooks at the end, and the strands are clearly separate from one another.

Cirrus uncinus clouds are the commas of the the sky. (Photo: HelloRF Zcool/Shutterstock)

2. Uncinus. This species of cirrus cloud is distinct for its hook-at-the-end feature.

Cirrus spissatus clouds are often found in cumulonimbus clouds. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

3. Spissatus. A species of cirrus clouds, spissatus clouds are the densest cirrus clouds you’ll see. They’re even able to hide the sun if they’re dense enough.

Stratocumulus castellanus can be identified by their defined layers of clouds. (Photo: Merikanto/Wikimedia Commons)

4. Castellanus. This species of cloud appears in cirrus, cirrocumulus, attocumulus and stratocumulus clouds. The tops of castellanus clouds form turrets, which give it that castle-like appearance.

Floccus clouds have a ragged base trailing after them. (Photo: Katarzyna Mazurowska/Shutterstock)

5. Floccus. These clouds have small tufts at their tops with a ragged base. They often have a virga, or streak of precipitation, trailing after the tuft. The species manifests as cirrus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus (pictured) and stratocumulus clouds.

Stratocumulus stratiformis clouds over a river. (Photo: Leonardo Poletto/Wikimedia Commons)

6. Stratiformis. A species found in altocumulus and stratocumulus clouds, stratiformis clouds are an extensive layer or sheet of their particular cloud.

A stratus nebulosus cloud in winter. (Photo: Simon Eugster/Wikimedia Commons)

7. Nebulosus. This cloud species, found among stratus and cirrostratus clouds, is a veil without any distinct details.

Cirrocumulus lenticularis clouds over Torres del Paine National Park. (Photo: Liam Quinn/Wikimedia Commons)

8. Lenticularis. Appearing primarily as cirrocumulus, altocumulus and stratocumulus clouds, lenticularis clouds appear in almond- or lens-shaped arrangements. This also makes lenticularis clouds great as UFOs. [Ed: And has glider pilots wetting their pants in excitement. For these ‘wave’ clouds are always a sign of strong, reliable lift!]

Volutus clouds are ominous-looking clouds to be sure. (Photo: Joshua Stone/Wikimedia Commons)

9. Volutus. It’s hard to miss volutus clouds. Also known as roll clouds due to their distinct shape and movement, volutus clouds are typically stratocumulus clouds and are completely separated from any other clouds.

Cumulus fractus clouds against a blue sky. (Photo: Juanedc/Wikimedia Commons)

10. Fractus. As their name implies, fractus clouds are stratus and cumulus clouds that have ragged, irregular shreds. These clouds have often broken away from another, larger cloud.


OK! That’s it for today.

More tomorrow!

8 thoughts on “The clouds above: Part Three

  1. Lenticular clouds do look like strange UFO apparations, often appearing over mountains in an otherwise perfectly clear sky. I think we have the movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ to thank for that analogy. 😊


    1. To be right up close to a lenticular cloud, especially the ‘leading edge’, is to experience their strangeness in a most spectacular manner. Thanks Colette! You have a cloud-free day! 😎


  2. I had to giggle on the comment of the hang gliders excitement on the Lenticulars cloud. It sound like such a guy thing. But I guess there are women who do it as well. Enjoying this series.


    1. Have to correct you in that I was speaking of fixed wing gliders although, I guess, there are some hang-glider pilots sufficiently crazy to attempt soaring a lenticular cloud. But love the fact that you are enjoying the series! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Then never have a glider pilot take you for a soaring flight! Because the world up there is beyond beautiful!

        And nearly forgot to add that there are many very good, extremely so, women glider pilots.

        Liked by 1 person

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