Weather lesson: Cloud types

Digital Mojo

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – For those who want to learn or whose kiddos are learning about cloud types, check this out! Also, be sure to watch the video for visuals.

There are several different types of clouds. Some grow vertically, some spread across the sky. We have low level, middle level and high level clouds all of which have different shapes, sizes, and qualities!


  1. Cumulus – Puffy white/light gray clouds, flat bases, grow vertically. When you hold your hand at arms length, they are about the size of your fist.
  2. Cumulonimbus – Can grow very tall (10 km) and are those dark storm clouds that produce thunder, lightning, rain…etc.

LOW LEVEL CLOUDS (Surface-7,000 feet):

  1. Stratus – low, gray, gloomy. Cover most of or the whole sky, looks like fog but not on the ground, can produce light mist or drizzle
  2. Stratocumulus – low, lumpy, gray. Spread out or in rows, size of fist at arms length, can also produce mist or drizzle
  3. Nimbostratus – dark gray, ragged base, continuous rain/snow, does not have any real boundaries

MIDDLE LEVEL CLOUDS (7,000-23,000 feet):

  1. Altostratus – gray/blue, cover whole sky but you can see sun/moon through them (appears watery or fuzzy), occasionally can produce drizzle, but if it hits the ground its called nimbostratus
  2. Altocumulus – grayish/white, form in groups, wide as thumb at arms length

HIGH LEVEL CLOUDS (16,000-43,000 feet):

  1. Cirrus – thin/wispy, made of ice crystals so they are bright white, mainly see them in fair weather
  2. Cirrostratus – high, sheet-like, normally cover the whole sky, you can see sun/moon through them, these can create halos/arcs around the sun, width of hand at arms length
  3. Cirrocumulus – Similar to altocumulus, but are white since they are high level and made out of ice crystals. They also appear smaller because they are higher, the width of your pinky if held at arms length. We see them with fair/cold weather.


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