It is always fun to watch the variations of cloud shapes when looking out of the plane’s window. The following article helps you to understand them and be able to look at them from a scientific point of view.
First let’s take a look at a very useful drawing on pacificislandtravel.com:
As you can see clouds can be found even 10 kms above the ground. Let’s go through the very typical ones you will necessarily meet during your flights.
Cumulus and cumulonimbus
The most common cloud shape. Normally it is not a harmful cloud type, but it can easily develop into cumulonimbus and result stormy weather. If you see these kind of clouds in the sky, it is the best time for gliding.
The following pictures show cumulus clouds from below and above.
Stratus clouds are thin, soft clouds. The thinner ones never bring any rain, but they can evolve into nimbostratuses that shower us with that so called “light rain”. Stratus clouds may appear on lower and higher levels of the athmoshphere.
Here are some pictures of stratus clouds.
Cirrus clouds can always be found on higher levels. They are those curtain-like soft clouds that sometimes appear to be nothing else but the gas coming out of airoplanes. :) But they are clouds.
The following pictures present cirrus clouds.
Normally these cloud types don’t appear only by themselves. The sky is often painted by a variations of different clouds. Here are some examples.
I hope you will enjoy cloud watching even more the next time you’ll fly.