Cumulus Fractus

Above: Cumulus Fractus

Cumulus Fractus

Cumulus clouds are classified under low level clouds and are of different types which differ in terms of their appearance and altitude. Fractus clouds are one of the types of cumulus clouds which are classified into two groups:

  • Cumulus fractus (formerly known as fractocumulus)
  • Stratus fractus ¬†(formerly known as fractostratus)

They differ in terms of color, dispersion of the particles and their vertical extent. Note that cumulus fractus clouds are also known as scuds and cloud tags.

What are cumulus fractus clouds?

The word ‘fractus’ has been derived from Latin which means fraction or a small part. ¬†They are more like accessory clouds that get their name from the type of cloud from which they have been sheared. They keep on changing where one moment they are formed and in the next moment they disappear.

What height are cumulus fractus clouds found?

Cumulus fractus clouds usually form detached clouds, and are only two thousand to three thousand feet above the earth’s level. As you look at the sky, you will see that these clouds are scattered in a haphazard manner and never follow any regular shape or pattern.

How are cumulus fractus clouds formed?

Cumulus fractus clouds are usually formed in fair weather. Warm air rises upwards, condense into clouds as it reaches a certain altitude and form cumulus clouds with more defined cauliflower shape. When cumulus fractus clouds make their way, the moisture in these clouds evaporates in the surrounding air. They do not last for a very long time and one can see them deteriorating in a few minutes and cumulus fractus clouds can also be seen on not-so-fair-days. They are ‘shredded’ by large cumulonimbus clouds once the rain storm is over.

What do cumulus fractus clouds look like?

Unlike other cumulus clouds, cumulus fractus do not have puffy shapes. They appear in small fragments with irregular shape, giving an impression as if they are torn or shred. Many people take them as happy-go-lucky nature clouds which look more like mist. They are not stationary and are always moving and you will see them becoming something every moment. Many people love watching them as they change their forms so often while moving across the sky.

How common are cumulus fractus clouds?

These clouds are visible around the base of thunderstorms and are seen flowing with the wind. They have ominous looks but are not taken as a sign of a dangerous situation. Scuds are quite common and you can see them almost every day but they have no significance. During rainstorms, scuds are formed in the updraft area and when they move to the main updraft, you can expect a thunderstorm.

Where can I see cumulus fractus clouds?

Cumulus fractus are usually seen when the storm is finally over and there are small white ragged-edged clouds in sky. There are formed at a very low height and are separated by clear blue sky with no definite shape. If you can find clouds that look like dragons, rooster or bears or anything similar, then it means that there are cumulus fractus in the sky.

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