Clouds

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Clouds that look like cotton balls are called cumulus clouds. They form when warm, moist air rises. As this air rises, it cools, condensing into water droplets that become puffy clouds. Cumulus clouds develop from the bottom upward.

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  • How does wind affect weather?

    Q: How does wind affect weather?

    A: Wind, or air movement, is integral to all types of weather conditions. Air pressure, which is largely caused by differential heating of the air by the sun and ground conditions, controls the way air flows, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. High pressure causes wind to blow slowly down and out, which prevents cloud formation; low pressure causes air to go up, which causes cooling and cloud formation.
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  • What instruments are used to measure cloud cover?

    Q: What instruments are used to measure cloud cover?

    A: In 2008, a group of researchers at Montana State University reported the development of a tool called the Infrared Cloud Imager (ICI), which was designed to collect data on cloud cover. For the novice meteorologist, NASA suggests a few low-tech methods of observing cloud cover, including a spherical sky mirror and a measuring system developed for the naked eye.
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  • How do clouds move?

    Q: How do clouds move?

    A: Clouds move due to wind currents that carry them through the lower levels of Earth's atmosphere. Even if there is no wind felt at ground level, wind constantly blows through the atmosphere carrying clouds, air particles and dust with it.
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  • How does a warm front form?

    Q: How does a warm front form?

    A: A warm front occurs when a cold air mass retreats and is replaced by a warm air mass. Warm fronts typically bring some form of precipitation to the area.
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  • How clouds are made?

    Q: How clouds are made?

    A: Clouds form when warm, moist air rises into the upper atmosphere, where the cooler temperatures cause the water to condense. Depending on the altitude, clouds may be made up of water droplets or ice crystals, and these often form around floating motes of dust or other particles. When too much moisture condenses, the droplets or crystals become too heavy to stay aloft, falling as snow or rain.
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  • What is the name of clouds that look like cotton balls?

    Q: What is the name of clouds that look like cotton balls?

    A: Clouds that look like cotton balls are called cumulus clouds. They form when warm, moist air rises. As this air rises, it cools, condensing into water droplets that become puffy clouds. Cumulus clouds develop from the bottom upward.
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  • What are stratus clouds made of?

    Q: What are stratus clouds made of?

    A: Like all clouds, stratus clouds are made of water vapor, water droplets and even ice crystals. Stratus clouds are identified not by what they are composed of, but by their general appearance, which is uniform, wide-ranging and gray.
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  • Why are rain clouds black?

    Q: Why are rain clouds black?

    A: Rain clouds turn gray or black because thick clouds saturated with rain drops scatter sunlight coming through the clouds. When less direct sunlight gets to the bottom of clouds, they appear darker to the human eye. Thin clouds that do not contain a lot of moisture allow enough sunlight through them so that they appear white to observers.
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  • How are clouds formed?

    Q: How are clouds formed?

    A: Clouds are formed when moist, warm air rises and expands in the atmosphere. The rising water vapor condenses and forms small water droplets which make up the clouds. When the water vapor cools, the low temperature of air lowers its capacity to hold water vapor.
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  • How do clouds float?

    Q: How do clouds float?

    A: Clouds float because the water droplets that comprise them are so incredibly tiny that they do not fall very fast. As clouds frequently occur in places that are experiencing updrafts, the force of the air pushing them up offsets the weight of the water droplets. In a cloud of typical size, the water droplets often weigh approximately 1/1000th as much as the air that containing them does.
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  • How do clouds make rain?

    Q: How do clouds make rain?

    A: Precipitation occurs when moist air rises to cooler altitudes, condensing the water out of the air into droplets. Once these droplets become heavy enough, often by coalescing around motes of dust or other particles, they fall out of the cloud as precipitation. Without significant updrafts bringing more moisture to the cloud layer, the condensed water may remain light enough to stay aloft, which is why not every cloud brings rain.
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  • What are clouds made of?

    Q: What are clouds made of?

    A: Clouds are made up of ice crystals and droplets of water. These form when water evaporates from bodies of water, such as the oceans. Once water reaches higher altitudes in the atmosphere, it becomes liquid and solid.
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  • What does the saying "Every cloud has a silver lining" mean?

    Q: What does the saying "Every cloud has a silver lining" mean?

    A: The saying is a proverb that means it is possible to find some good aspect to every bad situation. The proverb is commonly said to someone who is facing a great difficulty and can see no positive way forward.
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  • What are the types of clouds in a blizzard?

    Q: What are the types of clouds in a blizzard?

    A: Clouds that produce precipitation as rain or snow are called frontal cirrostratus, altostratus and nimbostratus clouds. Nimbostratus clouds produce the most intense precipitation but don't produce all the elements that constitute a blizzard. High winds and low temperatures are also required.
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  • What are the three main classifications for clouds?

    Q: What are the three main classifications for clouds?

    A: The main classification for clouds is based on their height above ground and they are categorized as high-level, mid-level and low-level.. Clouds are also identified by their appearance and can be named by combining the root terms cirro, alto, strato, nimbus or cumulus.
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  • Q: How much do clouds weigh?

    A: Cumulus clouds, which are generally the largest, can weigh in excess of 1 million pounds. This figure comes from a relatively simple density calculation involving the average volume of the cloud times the known density of water within it.
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  • Q: Are chemtrails real?

    A: The white vapor trails left by high-altitude air traffic are composed almost entirely of condensed water vapor, and they have never been shown to contain the toxic chemicals that the conspiracy theory proclaims to exist. The warm air expelled by aircraft engines serves as the catalyst for the condensation of high altitude water vapor.
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  • Q: What are some facts about altocumulus clouds?

    A: 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.
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  • Q: How do meteorologists measure cloud cover?

    A: Meteorologists measure cloud cover in oktas, units of measure that divide the sky into eighths. Readings run from 0 oktas, a clear sky, up to 8 oktas, a completely overcast sky. Special all-sky cameras, which photograph the sky images onto polished metal spheres, take the measurements.
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  • Q: How do stratus clouds form?

    A: 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.
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  • Q: What is freezing fog?

    A: Meteorologists classify freezing fog as a type of fog containing very cold water particles; these particles remain in a liquid state as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit in the air, but turn to ice upon contacting colder surfaces on the ground. Although freezing fog resembles ordinary fog in the air, it coats the ground in a thin layer of ice, creating the same effect as sleet and freezing rain. Freezing fog creates a hazy atmosphere and reduces visibility like regular fog, but contains thicker and heavier particles, giving it a solid look and feel.
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