Stratiform Names of Clouds

Above: Stratiform Names of Clouds

Stratiform Names of Clouds

Stratiform clouds or stratus clouds are known to be low-lying clouds in the atmosphere. Sometimes, when they are too low, they become ground-based fog. Stratus clouds are colored dull white to gray and are often the clouds you see on a cloudy day. While it is not exactly a sign of impending bad weather, there are some stratus clouds that can produce light drizzles or rain.

Stratiform Clouds or Stratus Clouds

Stratus means blanket or layer in Latin, which is why it is the best name for stratiform clouds. These low-lying clouds appear like blankets in the sky. They appear as horizontal and uneven layers that blanket the whole sky. Since they are low, these clouds are very visible and easily distinguishable.

Stratus clouds form when weak and upward vertical air currents lift thick layers of air that produces condensation. It can also form when air layer is cooled below its dew point temperature and then condenses the water vapor into liquid droplets. When there is high moisture in the area, these low-lying clouds tend to trap humidity and pollution, which makes people feel very sticky throughout the day.

These clouds also look like fog that never reaches the ground. Fog that is lifted from the ground also forms low stratus clouds. Even though the color of the stratus clouds seems to indicate bad weather, the upward vertical motion of the air currents are too weak to create precipitation. Light rain and drizzles can happen. However, it will also depend on what stratus cloud combination there is.

Stratus clouds tend to appear quite boring because of its uniform look. Comparing it to cirrus clouds, it doesn’t have much to offer with its shapes and sizes. Nonetheless, art connoisseurs like the lighting effects that stratus clouds make. Because of its flat and blanket look, the cloud dulls the light from the sun, creating a mood for photos and films.

Cirrostratus Clouds

One of the stratiform names of clouds combination is the cirrostratus cloud. This is a mix of cirrus and stratus clouds, which is characterized by thin and sheet-like clouds. These clouds are usually formed 18,000 feet above the ground. Since the clouds are thin, the sun and moon can be visible through it. This type of cloud combination is also responsible for making a halo around the sun and moon. The ice crystals in the cloud bend the sunlight instead of letting it pass through which results to the creation of a halo. Thick and heavy cirrostratus clouds are bright white in color and they signal a snow or rain within 24 hours.

Altostratus Clouds

The next stratiform clouds combination would be the altostratus clouds. Altostratus clouds can form as low as 6,000 feet or as high as 20,000 feet. They appear in bluish gray colors. Altostratus clouds cover the whole sky and the sun can only be slightly visible through the dim clouds. Altostratus clouds are what you should watch out for because it signals heavy rainfall or an approaching storm in the area.

Altostratus clouds are made from water droplets or ice crystals. When the size of ice crystals increases, the altitude decreases. It is formed by a lifted large air mass that condenses due to a coming frontal system. Altostratus clouds can also form because of the thickening of cirrostratus clouds.

Stratocumulus Clouds

The third stratiform names of clouds combination would be the stratocumulus cloud. Stratocumulus clouds are low, large, and dark, lumpy clouds in the sky. They appear in rounded masses, lines, waves, rows and patches. The color of the clouds can be white to dark gray. Stratocumulus clouds do not create precipitation. They form in the lower altitude at around 8,000 feet.

While these clouds do not produce precipitation, they can still produce light rains or snow and are always at the tail end of a bad weather. They can be signs of a coming storm but will be in the form of gusty winds and thunderheads.

Often, altocumulus and stratocumulus clouds look very similar. The best way to distinguish them by yourself is by using your hand. Point your hand in the direction of the cloud. If the cloud takes up your entire hand then it is a stratocumulus cloud. If the size is just the size of your thumb then it is an altocumulus cloud.

Stratocumulus clouds have the most classifications. It has two varieties: the stratocumulus undulatus and the stratocumulus cumuliformis. Here are the stratiform names of clouds:

Types under Stratocumulus Undulatus (Wavy Clouds)

  • Stratocumulus Undulatus-Clouds appear wavy, elongated and in rolls. They usually cover the entire sky.
  • Stratocumulus Opacus-These are dark clouds that cover the whole sky. The sheets of clouds are not uniform in appearance but the cloud bases can still be seen.
  • Stratocumulus Perlucidis-Clouds appear with small spaces and in irregular patterns.
  • Stratocumulus Translucidis-Clouds appear in a clear sky with visible spaces between them.
  • Stratocumulus Lenticularis-Clouds look like flat elongated seed shapes. These clouds are often seen in cold regions.

Types of Stratocumulus Cumuliformis (Cumulus-Like)

  • Stratocumulus Castellanus-Clouds appear in puffy tower-like formations.
  • Stratocumulus Vesperalis-Clouds are flat and elongated. They usually form at night.
  • Stratocumulus Dirunalis-Clouds form at lower altitudes. They appear as puffy clouds or lengthy sheets of cloud waves and rolls.

Nimbostratus Clouds

The last of the stratiform names of clouds is the nimbostratus cloud. These clouds are the dark gray clouds you see in the sky, which signals light to moderate rain. The word ‘nimbo’ means rain-producing cloud. The sun and moon are not visible through this cloud but it doesn’t really produce heavy rainfall. The cloud can last up to several hours a day. They form over warm and moist areas due to the overrunning colder air at the surface. They also form when altostratus clouds go down on lower altitude and thicken. Sometimes, nimbostratus clouds can also be in the form of fogs, and once these clouds are close to the surface, visibility will be very poor.

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