All clouds are made up of basically the same thing: water droplets or ice cream crystals the float in the sky. Yet all clouds look a tiny bit various from one another, and also sometimes these distinctions can assist us predict a adjust in the weather.

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Here’s a list of some of the most common cloud species you might spot in the sky:

High Clouds (16,500-45,000 feet)


Cirrus

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Cirrus clouds room delicate, feather clouds that room made mainly of ice cream crystals. Their wispy shape comes from wind currents which twist and spread the ice crystals into strands.Weather prediction: A adjust is top top its way!


Cirrostratus

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Cirrostratus clouds are thin, white clouds that cover the totality sky like a veil. This clouds are most generally seen in the winter, and also can cause the figure of a halo approximately the sun or the moon.Weather prediction: Rain or snow will arrive in ~ 24 hours!


Cirrocumulus

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Cirrocumulus clouds room thin, sometimes patchy, sheet-like clouds. They sometimes look favor they’re full of ripples or room made of tiny grains.Weather prediction: Fair, but cold. However, if friend live in a tropical region, this clouds could be a sign of an approaching hurricane!


Altocumulus

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Altocumulus clouds have actually several patchy white or gray layers, and seem come be consisted of of many tiny rows of fluffy ripples. Castle are lower than cirrus clouds, however still quite high. They space made of fluid water, but they nothing often create rain.Weather prediction: Fair


Altostratus

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Altostratus clouds room gray or blue-gray mid-level clouds written of ice cream crystals and also water droplets. The clouds typically cover the entire sky.Weather prediction: Be all set for continuous rain or snow!


Nimbostratus

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Nimbostratus clouds are dark, gray clouds that seem come fade into falling rain or snow. They are so thick that they regularly blot out the sunlight.Weather prediction: Gloomy with consistent rain or snow


Cumulus

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Cumulus clouds look prefer fluffy, white noodle balls in the sky. They are beautiful in sunsets, and also their differing sizes and also shapes can make them funny to observe!Weather prediction: Fair


Stratus

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Stratus cloud frequently look like thin, white sheets spanning the totality sky. Due to the fact that they space so thin, castle seldom develop much rain or snow. Sometimes, in the hills or hills, this clouds show up to it is in fog.Weather prediction: Fair, but gloomy


Cumulonimbus

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Cumulonimbus clouds thrive on hot days once warm, wet waiting rises really high into the sky. From much away, castle look like large mountains or towers. Weather prediction: Look out for rain, hail, and also tornadoes!


Stratocumulus

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Stratocumulus clouds room patchy gray or white clouds that frequently have a dark honeycomb-like appearance.Weather prediction: same weather because that now, however a storm can be top top its way.


Contrails

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Contrails room made by high-flying jet airplanes. They space still clouds, though, because they room made the water droplets condensed native the water vapor in the exhaust that the jet engines.Weather prediction: Contrails can provide information about the class of moisture in the sky.

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Mammatus clouds

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Mammatus clouds are actually altocumulus, cirrus, cumulonimbus, or other types of clouds that have actually these pouch-like shapes hanging the end of the bottom. The pouches are produced when cold air in ~ the cloud sink down toward the Earth.Weather prediction: serious weather could be on its way!


Orographic clouds

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Orographic clouds obtain their shape from hills or hills that force the wait to relocate over or approximately them. They can additionally be formed by sea breezes and also often show up as lines where 2 air masses meet.Weather prediction: an early sign that the problems might be ideal to type afternoon thunderstorms!


Lenticular clouds

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Lenticular clouds space shaped choose lenses or almonds or...flying saucers! castle may gain their form from hilly terrain or simply the method the wait is rising over level terrain.Weather prediction: None!


The GOES-16 (Geostationary Operational environmental Satellite-16) satellite have the right to watch clouds v a new instrument called the progressed Baseline Imager, or ABI for short. Scientists have discovered that rapid growth and cooling in ~ the tops of clouds are signs of the potential for serious weather. The ABI can show more detailed transforms in cloud-top features, helping scientists assess the potential size and also severity the a storm even prior to it reaches its peak!

Scientists use data native GOES-R series satellites, in addition to data indigenous NASA"s CloudSat Mission to research cloud properties.