According to the National Weather Service, common clouds that occur high in the atmosphere contain the ciro- prefix and include cirrus clouds, cirrostratus clouds and cirrocumulus clouds. Those that travel at a medium atmospheric altitude use the prefix alto-, and they include altostratus clouds and altocumulus clouds. Clouds that appear low in the atmosphere use either a strato- or cumulo- root, and they include stratocumulus clouds and nimbostratus clouds.Continue Reading
The National Weather Service explains that cirrus clouds are composed entirely of ice crystals, and they may precede a warm front. Cirrostratus clouds are similar but disperse light in a ring-shape pattern. Cirrocumulus clouds are lumpier than other high-level clouds.
At the medium level, altostratus clouds have a consistent texture and may indicate a coming warm front. Altocumulus clouds are heavier and usually appear in row formations.
Stratocumulus clouds appear lower in the atmosphere, usually preceding or following a front. Dense nimbostratus clouds are capable of producing light, steady snow or rain.
A cumulonimbus cloud is most often associated with storms due to its ability to produce heavy downpours, thunder and lightning. The cloud known as a cumulus congestus or towering cumulus can turn into a cumulonimbus cloud with sufficient updrafts.
Other types of clouds include: wall clouds, chelf clouds, fractus clouds, mammatus clouds, contrail clouds, fog and hole-punch clouds.Learn more about Clouds
Stratus clouds are formed when an upward-moving current of air collides with a thinner layer of air above it, causing water drops to form. The name "stratus cloud" derives from the shape of the cloud formation, where the clouds produce one or more layers of cloud cover.Full Answer >
Hail is typically associated with cumulonimbus clouds. The formation of hail is caused by the supercooling of uplifted liquid below freezing temperatures during severe thunderstorms.Full Answer >
Altocumulus clouds are midlevel clouds that often presage cold fronts in temperate climates. The bottoms of these clouds can be found around 6,500 to 13,000 feet in the polar regions, and up to 20,000 feet in the tropics.Full Answer >
Cirrus clouds are made up of ice crystals that form when supercooled water droplets freeze. These wispy and thin clouds are usually at elevations higher than 20,000 feet and are created from other clouds that go through a process called glaciation. Cirrus clouds appear in a number of shapes and sizes and are commonly seen in areas with fair weather.Full Answer >