Weather Facts: Identifying Clouds and Simple Weather Prediction

Use these simple tips to recognize types of clouds, learn how to predict a tornado and craft an easy DIY rain gauge and barometer.

| January/February 1974

The Hydraulic Cycle: When we want a glass of water, we turn on the kitchen tap quite casually. So casually that we seldom realize our faucet is only one small link in a system that constantly circulated and recirculates precipitation, condensation and evaporated moisture across the face of the earth. Check out the linked image to learn more, or read on to explore some of the effects of that process, including types of clouds and some facts about weather.

Types of Clouds

Cirrus: Very wispy, feathery clouds which form at great heights. Due to this altitude, cirrus are the first clouds to color before sunrise and the last to darken at sunset.

Cumulus: The beautiful, fluffy white puffs that scatter over a fair weather sky.

Stratus: Very low, horizontal, layer clouds that seem dense and thick. Undersides are frequently greyish. If these forms are broken into fragments or shreds, they're called fractostratus. 

Cirrostratus: The clouds veil the sky with the thin, overall whitish haze which produces a halo around the sun or moon. Cirrostratus clouds with wispy, defined edges are often called "mares tails".

Cirrocumulus: These resemble cirrus clouds but are sort of tufted or rippled like sand on a beach. Cirrocumulus are clouds of the "mackerel sky".

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