Clouds are formed by a cooling process. As air temperatures drop at a rate of 2°C per 300 meters, the water vapour in the air will condense to form a visible cloud when cooled to a ” dew point”. Learn how to read clouds like a weather forecaster and harness this knowledge to survive any hostile environment.
When the dew point equals the air temperature, the air cannot hold any more water vapor and clouds become visible.
The word cloud comes from the Old English (1320s) word “clud”. This described a rock formation because that is what clouds look like.
Yet, the names for all five categories of clouds are Latin in origin. Their names are: cirro, alto, strato, nimbo and cumulo. These words describe the height and shape of the cloud. Recognising these types of cloud will help you predict the weather.
What are the 5 types of clouds?
- Cirro= lock of hair. These wispy looking clouds exist at 6000 metres altitude and above.
- Alto= middle. These clouds are thicker and exist around 4000 metres altitude.
- Strato= layer. These clouds are stratified and have a layered look.
- Nimbo= cloud. These clouds exist above the freezing point in the atmosphere and exist around 2000 metres altitude.
- Cumulo= heap or pile. They exist at all levels of the atmosphere. At low levels, they look like cotton balls. Other times they look softer but larger in appearance. The largest ones are massive clouds reaching the troposphere and beyond.
Learn to recognise the different types of cloud to anticipate bad weather, persistent rain, or mist. You can plan your shelter needs accordingly.
By Benedict Weaver / Zero Foundation Africa
To learn how to read clouds like a weather forecaster and to understand how to read the weather and plan accordingly, attend one of our courses.
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