Cumulus Humilis

Above: Cumulus Humilis

Cumulus Humilis

Cumulus humilis clouds have a strong association with summer. People take them as an indication that summer is here and are also known as fair weather clouds. They are quite common in hot countries and belong to the category of low to middle level clouds.

What are cumulus humilis clouds?

Humilis is a Latin word which means humble and the clouds have got this name because of the fact that they are formed by a weak convection system. The clouds have flat bases along with small rounded tops and are the smallest clouds in the group of cumulus clouds. Some of the unique features of cumulus humilis clouds are as follows:

  • Short lived
  • Low level cloud
  • Worldwide distribution
  • Caused by weak convection

What height are cumulus humilis clouds found?

The humidity level of the surrounding air mass plays a pivotal role in the formation of the cloud base. In areas where the humidity level is quite high like tropical regions or coastal areas, these clouds are usually at a height of 2000ft and can go up to 3500 ft. The altitude increases as they move to dry areas and under favorable conditions, cumulus humilis clouds can later develop into cumulonimbus incus.

How are cumulus humilis clouds formed?

Cumulus humilis clouds are formed throughout the day as the sun rays fall on the ground and heat it. This heat up the air and it rises upwards; as it reaches a certain height it begins to condense. They have a fluffy shape in the morning but tend to lose it as they collapse in the afternoon and is so widely spread out that they eventually dissipate. Sometimes they collapse into the stratocumulus as they cover the sky. These clouds are formed even in hot places like the Sahara desert when there is enough humidity due to convective movements that is required to form a humilis cloud.

What do cumulus humilis clouds look like?

Humilis clouds do not have much depth and lack in any significant vertical development. There are times when these clouds are seen with other types of clouds when the sky is quite clear. This situation is considered to be an indicator of lovely weather for the next couple of hours. Due to its shallow depth, they are quite problematic for aircrafts and when these clouds are present, pilots usually try to fly above the cloud tops.

How common are cumulus humilis clouds?

Cumulus humilis clouds are not restricted to any specific location and are widely seen in every corner of the world when the conditions are favorable. They formed over deserts, oceans and land masses, Antarctica being an exception.   

Where can I see cumulus humilis clouds?

On the whole, these clouds are more common during bright sunny days. However, if they are seen early in the morning then they are taken as a sign of unstable atmosphere. If the clouds are quite large and wide, you can expect thunderstorms. They are not taken as rain clouds but are believed to be a warning sign for the upcoming storm.

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