Genus Altocumulus

Above: Genus Altocumulus

Genus Altocumulus

Clouds are very beautiful images and people can spend hours looking at them. Have you tried looking at the clouds and wondered about them? There are so many different types of clouds and they are all given specific names. Genus Altocumulus clouds are a combination of water droplets or ice crystals, and they are formed when air has been saturated enough, and their different appearances are identifiable in terms of the prefix that they are given.

Different Types of Clouds

Clouds form differently depending on air pressure, and they are categorized according to the following:

  • High-level clouds: These are clouds composed mainly of ice crystals, and they form at altitudes as high as 20,000 feet or 6,000 meters. At this height, the temperature is so low and these kinds of clouds are seen as very thin layers of white sheets that can be saturated with different colors when the sun shines on them.


  • Mid-level clouds: They are composed of a combination of water droplets and ice crystals, forming between 6,500 to as high as 20,000 feet or about 2,000 to 6,000 meters. 


  • Low-level clouds: These are clouds formed below 6,000 feet or 2,000 meters. Since the temperature at this level is quite higher, you can expect for the clouds here to be composed mostly of water droplets. When the temperature is low enough, there could be some particles of ice and snow in the clouds at this level.


  • Vertically-developed clouds: These are clouds that form up to 39,000 feet or 12,000 meters and they are the most commonly known clouds.


  • Other types of clouds: Apart from the clouds that independently exist in specific levels, there are specialized clouds that exist, such as the cirrus and cirrostratus clouds, the altocumulus and the altostratus clouds, the nimbostratus and stratocumulus clouds, the cumulus and the cumulonimbus clouds and the sub-varieties like the contrails, billow, mammatus, orographic, and pielus clouds.

The Mid-Level Clouds: Genus Altocumulus

Before anything else, you first have to know more about the cumulus clouds, which are clouds that have been observed to follow a distinct vertical development. Compared to most clouds, they are seen with defined edges and they are puffy, just like cotton. They can show up as a singular element or they can appear in lines or clusters. There are so many different clouds in the sky but here, however, we will focus on one particular cloud formation, the Genus Altocumulus.

Genus Altocumulus clouds are mid-level clouds, which are made of water droplets and can be found between atmospheric levels of at least 6,500 feet. They are banded, rounded, and appear much like cottons balls. They are an indication of bad weather coming because they can sometimes appear with dark shadows. When the sky is suddenly showcasing a collection of these kinds of clouds, it is indicative of a coming thunderstorm.

Interesting Facts about Genus Altocumulus

Genus altocumulus clouds are more than just thunderstorm clouds. They are fluffy balls of water vapor and if you wish to know more about them, then here are some bits of important information you should learn:

  • The name is pronounced as (al-toe-CUE-mew-lus) and they are given the scientific abbreviation of “Ac.”


  • They belong to the family of clouds called globular masses and they appear as rolls over layers or patches.


  • In reference to other cumulus clouds, they show characteristic convection properties. They appear smaller than stratocumulus clouds but larger than cirrocumulus clouds.


  • In terms of color, they appear either white or gray.


  • They are significant to weather forecasting because they are seen to precede cold fronts. So when the air is quite humid and warm, and the clouds are suddenly seen forming up in the sky, this is indicative of some thunderstorms building up.


  • When they are in their broken form, they are often mistaken for stratocumulus clouds, but you can tell them apart by observing the way in which they are formed. If there are other forms of the same cloud on the middle level of the sky, then you are looking at an altocumulus. But if you are seeing similar clouds in the upper level, then you are looking at stratocumulus clouds.

Types of Altocumulus Clouds

Genus altocumulus clouds come in different types. First of all, they occur as four different species, namely: stratiformis, lenticularis, castellanus, and floccus. They also occur in different varieties: the translucidus, perlucidus, opacus, duplicates, undulates, radiates and lacunosus. Finally, they have accessory clouds and supplementary features like the virga and mamma. To better understand them, here are the different types of altocumulus clouds:

  • Lenticularis: They are lens-shaped clouds and are usually mistaken for an “unidentified flying object” (UFO) because of their shape.


  • Altocumulus castellanus: They are turreted altocumulus clouds.


  • Altocumulus stratiformis: These are clouds that appear as sheets or flat patches.


  • Altocumulus floccus: They are tufted altocumulus clouds that appear with ragged bases.


  • Altocumulus lacunosis: These are clouds that appear with holes and they are formed and brought about by the localized downdrafts in the atmosphere.


  • Altocumulus duplicatus: These are altocumulus clouds that are arranged as layers that are placed one above the other.


  • Altocumulus opacus: These are opaque altocumulus clouds, which when they appear on the sky, have the ability to obscure the sun or moon.


  • Altocumulus translucidus: These are very translucent altocumulus clouds and you can see the sun and moon, through them.


  • Altocumulus radiates: These clouds are arranged in beautiful rows and they converge perfectly to frame the horizon.


  • Altocumulus undulates: These are types of altocumulus clouds that have a very wavy undulating base.


  • Altocumulus mamma: These are altocumulus clouds, which come with bubble-like protuberances.


  • Altocumulus virga: These are altocumulus clouds that produce precipitation that eventually evaporates before they reach the ground.


The next time you look at the sky and see clouds, try to spot an altocumulus cloud. Surely, you can already identify them just by reading and understanding the information provided here.

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