How to distinguish the types of clouds

The first days of spring are usually characterized by changing weather conditions, so that the sky becomes a spectacular canvas on which they are drawn. all kinds of clouds, some carrying water and others that simply indicate an improvement in climatic conditions.

Observing the sky, therefore, is a curious hobby thanks to which we can predict to a greater or lesser extent if the temperatures will rise or fall and whether or not it is possible for precipitation to develop. In addition, we will have the ability to distinguish the clouds that are formed and calculate more or less at the height they are.

Cloud formation

Before going on to know the name of each type of cloud, it is interesting to note how are they formed. It all begins when the sun warms the earth’s surface. This causes the air near it to heat up. Once it has gained temperature, that air rises towards colder layers and when it reaches areas where the temperatures are lower, condensation occurs of the same.

That is, they are formed small drops of water and even ice particles that are suspended thanks to the air currents. Its accumulation creates the clouds that we see every day and depending on the currents, the temperature they have or the height at which they are formed, they have some characteristics or others.

Likewise, it should be noted that we generally see them in White color because when sunlight falls on them, it spreads in all colors, causing it to reach us with whitish tones. When we see them darker, it is because they carry more water and filter more light.

Cloud types

Once its formation is known, we go on to name each type of cloud. We will aim them from those that are in the highest areas of the atmosphere to those that are closer to the earth’s surface.


They are at a height that goes from 5 to 13 kilometers in temperate zones (between 6 and 18 in tropical areas). Their appearance stands out for being fibrous and whitish, and they are composed of tiny ice crystals.

When we look at the sky we usually see them as long filaments that seem to color in parallel ways. As explained in Network Meteorology, when there is an accumulation of cirrus clouds, it is most likely that in about 24 hours a change in time quite abrupt that generally translates into a drop in temperatures.

Cirrus Clouds


They are found at heights similar to cirrus clouds, but instead of elongated filaments, they appear as small white granules that form a kind of rough carpet. Due to their location, they are also made up of ice particles. In addition, on many occasions they appear next to cirrus clouds.

Cirrocumulus Clouds


They are the third type of cloud that is generated in the highest parts of the atmosphere and therefore they are also composed of ice crystals. Of course, they differ from the previous ones because their appearance is whitish and diffuse, making very difficult to see the limits of each one. This kind of veil blurs the shape of the sun and usually indicates that the climatic conditions change, either because temperatures are going to rise or because a cold front.

Cirrostratus Clouds


Altocumulus trees usually appear at a medium height, specifically between 2 and 7 kilometers in temperate zones and between 2 and 8 in the tropics. They are made up of tiny drops of water and their appearance is similar to rounded and wavy sheets. Most likely, its appearance warns that the weather is going to get worse.

Altocumulus clouds


They usually form in medium heights, but they can also ascend to the higher ones. That is why they are made up of both water droplets and ice crystals. They normally form a thin layer of clouds through which sunlight enters and in which there is gray and bluish tones.

Altostratus Clouds


They are also found at a medium height and are made up of water and ice (or even snow). Its appearance is that of grayish and dense clouds and when we see them in the sky they presage precipitation.

Nimbostratus Clouds


These clouds are generated in the lower layers, not rising more than 2 kilometers in the atmosphere. They accumulate water and even snow and their appearance is whitish or grayish, adopting laminated forms or even patches and cylinders. Despite everything, it is not usual for them to cause rain.

Stratocumulus Clouds


Also in low areas you can see this type of cloud composed of small drops of water. We will distinguish them because they usually cover the sky with a uniform light grayThat is to say, they are those that appear on gray days in which there is no glimpse of blue.

Stratus Clouds

Cumulus clouds

They are located in the low areas, but as they develop upwards, they can reach higher levels. Its appearance is white and dense, as if they were pieces of cotton. They are formed by drops of water and we can easily distinguish them because they appear on good weather days with all kinds of spongy shapes. They are the typical ones that children draw.

Cumulus clouds


With a development similar to the previous ones, they usually present a larger size and they accumulate water in the lower areas and ice in the higher ones. Its tones are white and gray, and when they appear in the sky, storms usually occur and even give rise to hailstorms.

Cumulonimbus clouds