The clouds above – Part Five

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

Everything you need to know about clouds

August 13, 2018.


If we drill down further, the large scale arrangement of clouds give the genera and species a wide variety of presentation. Some clouds can exhibit multiple varieties at once, so the varieties are not mutually exclusive to one another, and many genera have a number of varieties. The exceptions to this are translucidus and opacus varieties; they cannot occur at the same time.

Cirrus intortus clouds bend and twist in unusual ways. (Photo: Bblanc/Wikimedia Commons)

1. Intortus. This variety of cirrus clouds has irregularly curved and twisted filaments.

Cirrus vertebratus are bony-looking clouds. (Photo: Laurent Julien/Wikimedia Commons)

2. Vertebratus. Have you ever seen a cloud that looked like a fish skeleton? It was almost certainly a vertebratus cirrus cloud.

Wave on, undulatus clouds. Wave on. (Photo: Axel Kristinsson/Wikimedia Commons)

3. Undulatus. These sheets or layers of clouds display a wavy pattern. You can find undulatus varieties in cirrocumulus, cirrostratus, altocumulus, altostratus, stratocumulus and stratus clouds.

Radiatus clouds form a nice line in the sky. (Photo: Unasia9/Wikimedia Commons)

4. Radiatus. The bands of these separated clouds run parallel to one another and appear to merge on the horizon. Look for them when you spot cirrus, altocumulus (pictured), altostratus, stratocumulus and cumulus clouds.

Cirrocumulus lacunosus clouds can cast a wide net in the sky. (Photo: The High Fin Sperm Whale/Wikimedia Commons)

5. Lacunosus. This cloud variety appears mostly in relation to cirrocumulus and altocumulus clouds. It is marked with small holes in the cloud layer, like a net or honeycomb.

Altocumulus lenticularis duplicatus clouds float in the Arizona sky. (Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli/Wikimedia Commons)

6. Duplicatus. These layers of cirrus, cirrostratus, altocumulus, altostratus or stratocumulus clouds appear in at least two slightly different layers.

Translucidus create a hazy shade of sunny. (Photo: The Great Cloudwatcher/Wikimedia Commons)

7. Translucidus. A large sheet of clouds — either altocumulus, altostratus (pictured), stratocumulus and stratus — that is translucent enough to allow the sun or the moon to shine through.

Perlucidus clouds make sure you don’t lose the view of the sky. (Photo: Sahil Kapoor/Wikimedia Commons)

8. Perlucidus. Yet another variety of clouds in a sheet, these altocumulus and stratocumulus clouds have small spaces between each cloudlet that result in a visible sky.

This image of an altostratus opacus cloud demonstrates how completely it can cover the sky. (Photo: The Great Cloudwatcher/Wikimedia Commons)

9. Opacus. The opposite of the previous two varieties, these cloud layers are opaque enough to hide the sun or moon. This variety is found among altocumulus, altostratus (pictured), stratocumulus and stratus clouds.

Accessory clouds

As their name implies, accessory clouds are smaller clouds associated with a larger cloud. They may be partially connected or separate from the main cloud.

A pileus cloud appears over a volcanic cloud produced by Sarychev Peak in the Kuril Islands in Russia. (Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Wikimedia Commons)

1. Pileus. A small cap or hood that appears above the top of a cumulus and cumulonimbus cloud.

A velum accessory cloud forms around the middle of a large cloud over Maracaibo, Venezuela. (Photo: Giancarlo Rossi/Wikimedia Commons)

2. Velum. This veil is close above or attached to cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds.

Pannus clouds form along the edge of a storm cloud. (Photo: Anderson Mancini/Wikimedia Commons)

3. Pannus. Appearing mostly along the bottoms of altostratus, nimbostratus, cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds, these are ragged shreds of the cloud that make up a continuous layer.

A wall cloud with a cauda cloud tail forms over Elmer, Oklahoma. The lowest middle section of this cloud is the flumen. (Photo: Steve Willington/World Meteorological Organization)

4. Flumen. These are bands of low clouds associated with supercell storm clouds, typically cumulonimbus. Some flumen clouds can resemble beaver tails due to their broad, flat appearances.


Please come back tomorrow for the last of this wonderful series about clouds.

6 thoughts on “The clouds above – Part Five

    1. Delighted! Yes, it is a most comprehensive review of a subject to which many probably never give a second thought. I shall set up a link to the series from the home page later on this week. Thank you, Susan.

      Liked by 1 person

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