Jump to content

Clouds and Types. the BASICS

Recommended Posts

I have been asked a few times so here you go.

Clouds can be cirrus (wispy), cumulus (heaped) and stratus (in layers).

They are classified into 10 main cloud types according to height and shape. Not all clouds bring rain, some are signs of fine weather. The word ‘nimbus' added to the beginning or end of a cloud type, e.g. cumulonimbus or nimbostratus, means that the cloud is a rain cloud and will usually appear to be dark grey.

Generally cumulonimbus are the most dangerous clouds associated with hail, lightning, tornadoes, downdraughts, downbursts and sucking Paragliders up to 30,000ft +

If you feel that you can add to this thread, please do BUT please keep it simlpe 'like the above' and stick to facts as it can then be used as a information source in the future.

8) are not currently required........ :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

If you fancy wandering around some stunning pictures and a very informative site try The Cloud Appreciation Society.

Example ; This link will enable you to see examples of the different cloud types and formations that Simon mentions above. For skywatchers, and we all become that in the end, the graphics are an invaluable resource as well as being truly beautiful in their own right.

Also, forgive me for directing you to my blog - I don't want to engage in shameless promotion (totally non commercial blog by the way) but this post talks a little about the Society and provides links elsewhere that might just amuse and amaze.


The Morning Glory


Lenticular wave clouds; Altostratus Lenticularis.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sat 28th 1930 hrs - Chinnor, Oxon

A very deceptive night with regards to the weather:

I was due to ground crew for two hot air balloons in Thame tonight, but they called it off, earlier due to the rain moving in faster than they thought.

No probs, spend the night at home with the expectant wife, hoping she dosen't go into labour just before bed time like the last two times.

But continued looking for the rain clouds. Very white sky this evening - can only imagine that the clouds are very high. Some wisps of clouds at lower levels, casting their greyer colour down at me, moving at a leisurely pace.

Then it started raining - the first time I had actually tried forecasting myself by looking at the sky and I got it wrong. The lower greyer clouds in the distance weren't upon Chinnor just yet, and the cat is racing indoors to escape a shower.

Maybe I haven't studied the skies enough seeing as I do not fly just yet, but was just amazed at how wrong I was when the H2O started falling, and I didnt think there was enough cloud to rain!

Learnt a good lesson without even knowing it. I know not to underestimate the weather. I know there is a lot more to come tonight and I hope it dosen't interfere with tomorrow's flying for any of us.

One other point - lots of different internet weather forecast sites, lots of different forecasts! Which ones do you find are the most reliable?

Happy flying to you all,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

One other point - lots of different internet weather forecast sites, lots of different forecasts! Which ones do you find are the most reliable?

Hi Dave,

The weather puzzles us all doesn't it? I hope the bits below help.

The met Office has developed well and become really useful over the last few years with just about any info you could possibly want. The ballooning forecast shows promise for analysis of relevant conditions. The animated synoptic with attached timings makes a lot of sense of what you see out of the window.

Here is a link for Swindon.

You need to register but it costs nothing to do so.

:arrow: Notes offered in good faith.

Proper forecasting is a slow and painfully acquired skill (I don't have it), the weather is seldom typical and the big picture can sometimes be confusing. The way most of us play it is to study forecasts and the synoptic charts in order to understand what is on the way.

Learning the basics of climatology (and I mean just the basics) does help the construction of the weather picture, and make a little more sense of things as the characteristics of air masses affect the nature of the weather actually being experienced. Eg: At the extreme, cold damp Arctic air vs damp but warm maritime flows from the southern Atlantic - the dry, icy blasts from Siberia etc.

I find some of the most 'Mickey Mouse' bookson weather very useful as they pitch the explanations at the right level

for my slow wits for things obscure. I once gave a Met briefing for a navex to a bunch of students and saw three of them conferring quietly at the back of the room; they bounced back with intelligent and challenging questions that I had to think really hard about. They weren't being awkward, - they were Met Officers learning to fly and were just working mentally at their level. I dragged them into the process and we all learned a lot that day.

Watch the weather over time, make note of the timing of synoptics and the when you expect say, frontal passage through your area and the slow arial ballet of our weather systems start to make a little sense.

Understanding something of the weather takes a lot of the anxiety and uncertainty out of cross country flying, knowing a little of what is over the horizon can give peace of mind and help enormously saving days wasted mooching around an airfield waiting forlornly for the weather to clear up. "You need to pick up the rhythm man."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Upcoming Events

    No upcoming events found
  • Create New...