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2. Clouds

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Did you know there are over 100 different types of clouds?

Lets have a look at a few of the more common clouds, have a look and see if you can spot them when out on your daily walk. You will have more facts for you to impress your friends and family with!

These are some of the clouds you might see:

Cumulus

These are the most common type people like to draw. They are rounded and puffy and when they are in the sky when it is sunny they are a really bright white colour. They are often known as the fair weather clouds because you are most likely to see them when the sun is out and heating the ground. You will see them mostly in the late morning and then they disappear towards the evening.

Small Cumulus

These clouds do not produce rain but the larger ones can give us light to moderate showers.

Stratocumulus

This cloud is a lower layer of cloud and is the most widespread of all cloud types in the UK. When you are trying to name the clouds if the sky is overcast and the colours are a mixture of white and dark grey - this is Stratocumulus. We don’t want to see these as they are very good at blocking out the sunshine!

Cumulonimbus - Storm Clouds!

These are the powerhouse of the atmosphere - it can spread over 10 miles into the sky. It is dark and ragged and angry looking. They produce heavy rain, snow and often hailstones - none of which we like! These clouds bring really heavy downpours rather then continuous drizzly rain.

Altocumulus

These are the form of layers or patches of clumps of cloud known as cloudlets. It might look like lots of cotton wool balls in the sky. These clouds are a sign that there are storms ahead. If they have very bumpy tops it means the atmosphere is unstable and the cumulus clouds will be building into Cumulonimbus storm clouds and that means heavy showers for later in the day!

Cirrus

These are the most beautiful of the main cloud types. These are like watercolour brush strokes across the blue sky. They are made of ice crystals that fall through the high atmosphere. As they pass through faster and slower winds and drier and more moist air it causes the cloud to have distinctive wavy strokes known as “fallstreaks“

Contrails

This is short for ‘condensation trails’, these are the lines of cloud that can sometimes form behind aircraft up at cruising height. Formed from the water vapour (water in gas form) that is part of the aircraft exhaust, these straight, crisp lines of condensation could hardly look more different from the wild, chaotic forms of the natural clouds. They only appear when the air up at cruising height is cold enough and moist enough. At other times, no cloud appears behind the plane.

See if you can spot any over the next few days and record what you see.

Can you see any out the window today? What size are they?

Use the Met Office's Cloud Spotting Guide to help learn and remember the different cloud types.

Watch the Met Office's cloud spotting video below to learn more.


Now you have learnt about the different clouds and how to spot them, why not try to Draw Clouds using the activity link.

If you want to learn how to amaze your friends, by predicting the weather, then watch the BBC Video How To Use Wind To Forecast The Weather!

Cloud Types (PDF)
Met Office Cloud Spotting Guide (PDF)






Black Hole Hosts Universe's Most Massive Water Cloud
Cloud Fact: There is a water vapour cloud in space which has 100 trillion times the amount of water present on Earth! Learn more by reading Black Hole Hosts Universe's Most Massive Water Cloud

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