I would like to help you learn about weather forecasts by using a very old technique, before radar. If you are stuck in the wilderness, using cloud types as a weather indicator (along with barometric pressure) could be a great method of makeshift forecasting.
Let’s first go over the types of clouds, and then I will discuss them further. The basic cloud types are:
Now that we have named them, let’s see what they mean as far as weather is concerned. Obviously, we will be hit and miss, since we are going back to around the 1700s technology of eyesight, but this knowledge could help you take appropriate action before getting “caught in the rain.”
Cirrus: This is a very whispy type of cloud, almost feathery. It accumulates very high in the atmosphere. It usually means fair weather, but if they are building out of the north in a northern region, it could also mean an impending blizzard.
Learn About Weather Forecasts Using Cloud Types as Indicator Stratus Cloud
Stratus: A very low gray cloud. It can look like a shelf covering the whole sky with some bumpiness to it, or even more hazy, just making the sky look drab and gray. Stratus Clouds typically mean a decent chance of rain, but not much else.
Learn About Weather Forecasts Using Cloud Types as Indicator Cumulus Clouds
Cumulus: These are the fluffy white, cotton-ball-like clouds that are flat on the bottom. They are generally built around midday from the heat of the sun and vaporization of water. They are much lower than cirrus clouds, but are generally fair weather clouds as well. If they continue to build over a hot day, they can become dense and drop rain, or even develop into a cumulonimbus.
Learn About Weather Forecasts Using Cloud Types as Indicator Nimbus Clouds
Nimbus: Ram clouds of uniform grayness extending over the entire sky. Usually higher than stratus clouds.
Learn About Weather Forecasts Using Cloud Types as Indicator Cumulonimbus Clouds
Cumulonimbus: The result of a cumulus cloud building and rising up in the atmosphere at the top to form an “anvil” shape. This is the typical cloud of a thunderstorm, and are even called thunderheads. These are the cloud formations most often associated with severe storms and tornados in the Midwest and Central United States.
Learn About Weather Forecasts Using Cloud Types as Indicator Cirrostratus Clouds
Cirrostratus: Uniformly gray, very high stratus clouds that are darker than cirrus clouds. They typically are a sign of good weather.
Learn About Weather Forecasts Using Cloud Types as Indicator Cirrocumulus Clouds
Cirrocumulus: High altitude small fluffy or round clouds that typically mean good weather.
Learn About Weather Forecasts Using Cloud Types as Indicator Scud Clouds
Scuds: Loose, vapory cloud pressing in front of wind. Usually indicates continuing bad weather. Especially when accompanying dark cumulonimbus clouds, it is an ominous sign of foul weather. Scuds are also involved in a lot of the storms that eventually harbor tornadic activity.
Keep these in your mind next time you go outside. Keep the knowledge of the clouds handy and every day, try to name the clouds that you see and make a mental note of the basic weather for the day, or even the forecast for the day. This is an easy daily practice and a way to build your real-world knowledge of the cloud indicators of weather BEFORE you will ever need it.
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