Cumulus Radiatus

Above: Cumulus Radiatus

Cumulus Radiatus

Part of the most recognized shape of cloud groups across the planet, the cumulus radiatus formation indicates a variety that materializes in straight lines that appear to meet somewhere at the horizon. Because they are part of the cumulus category, they can easily be recognized due to their puffed up and overblown consistency. However, what set the radiatus apart from the rest of the clouds in the family are the hard winds that are usually found between the parallel lines.

What height are cumulus radiatus clouds found?

The shape of the radiatus formation is very similar to the high level and mid level cloud structure. Therefore, this specific pattern can develop at the same altitude as the other clouds, meaning below the two thousand meters threshold or sixty-five feet above sea level. However, it is important to note that sometimes they can materialize higher, especially when the humidity in the air is relatively low.

How are the cumulus radiatus clouds formed?

Regarding the details of how the radiatus clouds come into being; it is all a matter of condensation of the warm air that lifts into the atmosphere. Overall, when the masses of hot air reach the layers of the atmosphere where the temperature is cold, they start to transform water vapors into solid ice crystals. Lastly, the wind also influences the height and shape of the clouds. Therefore, the radiatus relative parallel lines are held together by heavy winds around the solid particles that formed first.

How do cumulus radiatus clouds look like?

It is important that people do not confuse this specific category of cumulus with other types of clouds. This variety of clouds can usually be found in:

  • Altostratus
  • Cirrus
  • Altocumulus
  • Stratocumulus
  • Cumulus

While lines of condensed water can form in any part of the atmosphere, the easiest way to differentiate these clouds from the cirrus, altostratus, stratocumulus and so on is by their rounded and well defined curves. At the same time, another method to differentiate between the cirrus and cumulus radiatus formations is that while the first has broader lines that are dispersed by wind, the latter tend to create a lump near the horizon line.

How common are cumulus radiatus clouds?

The radiatus clouds cannot appear without the help of winds. Therefore, they will take shape in any area of the planet that permits condensation, convection and winds with a speed of over 180 miles per hour. Since this is not uncommon for most regions of the globe, it is safe to say that the straight line clouds can be observed on every continent except the frozen lands of Greenland and Antarctica. It is important to point out that even though they can form in any region, it is very unlike that they can be spotted in the cold season. Therefore, since they need that consistent mass of warm air to rise and take shape in the lower parts of the atmosphere, they are most likely visible on hot summer days.

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