Three main types of clouds
Like flat sheets - can occur at any altitude.
High altitude, thin, wispy clouds. More ice than water, due to high altitudes.
Big, lumpy, fluffy clouds. Can occur at any altitude.
Cloud pictures courtesy of www.coclouds.com
Mix 'n Match names
If you add one of these prefixes to your cloud name, it tells you more about that cloud. For example:
Add 'Cirro' = high altitude clouds
Add 'Alto' = mid level clouds
Add 'Strato' = low level clouds
And add 'Nimbus' = really tall.
List of cloud names
The full list of cloud names are:
Cirrus, Cirrocumulus, Cirrostratus, Altocumulus, Altostratus, Stratocumulus, Stratus, Cumulus, Nimbostratus, Towering Cumulus, Cumulonimbus, Lenticular, Contrails, Noctilucent night clouds, Fog, Kelvin-Helmholtz, Nacreous
Cloud identification diagram.
Measuring cloud cover
Cloud cover is measured in eighths or oktas and uses this scale seen here on the right. It is done very simply by estimating if the whole sky was divided into eighths, how many would be covered by cloud. Have a look out of the window now and estimate what the cloud cover is today.
What is fog?
A cloud that fell down. Fog is a low lying cloud, so low in fact, that it touches the ground.
Shapes in clouds
Yes, we think this photo must be a fake too. But it is still a lot of fun spotting shapes in the clouds. And even better when you spot something.
Cloud height chart
As you can see from this cloud height chart, the sun's energy is that much stronger at the equator driving the high level clouds to much higher heights. As a result, the classification of what makes a high level cloud varies, depending on your latitiude.