Cloud types

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

Cloud shapes and types

Cloud shapes and types

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.

Stratus clouds

Stratus clouds

Upper and lower level stratus

Upper and lower level stratus

Stratus clouds over Moscow

Stratus clouds over Moscow


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.

Cirrus clouds

Cirrus clouds

Cirrus clouds + plane gas

Cirrus clouds + plane gas


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.

Stratus with a cumulonimbus

Stratus with a cumulonimbus

Stratus and cumulus clouds

Stratus and cumulus clouds

Cumulus and stratus clouds

Cumulus and stratus clouds

I hope you will enjoy cloud watching even more the next time you’ll fly.

By Szafi

10 Responses to “Cloud types”

  1. 1 Rachel July 10, 2008 at 8:07 pm

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  2. 2 Lori Lamb July 11, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I know I’m WAY off topic, but I just don’t know where to post this comment, and I’m hoping you can help;

    Have you had any reports of BED BUGS at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel?

    My husband is a 777 FO Continental Airlines traveling frequently to TLV. In fact, as I’m writing this, he’s boarding his commute flight in Newark headed home to Phoenix … and he’s sporting dozens of very itchy little red bites which we strongly suspect are Bed Bug bites.

    When he mentioned the bites to the front desk at checkout yesterday, he was pretty much poo-poo’d, but I take the matter very seriously. As a former corporate travel manager, I had many occasions to deal with travelers returning from hotel stays (some in 5-star hotels) with Bed Bug bites. Many who brought the little biters home to their families in suitcases unknowingly.

    I’d be very interested to know if you or any of your readers have had recent problems at the David. Any information you can share will be appreciated.

    Lori (
    Peoria, AZ

  3. 3 E-Monk July 12, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    See? My fascination with clouds was not so far fetched after all 🙂

  4. 4 SwapinaikeVap August 3, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Very nice!!

  5. 5 101pop baba August 31, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    so cool! i love clouds! theyre awesome

  6. 6 Frances September 1, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    what you refer to as “plane gas” looks exactly like persistent contrails or chemtrails

    is it still “plane gas” when it extends from horizon to horizon, forming parallel lines and sometimes criss-crossing lines?

    and why do the “plane gas” lines merge and cause the entire sky to become overcast with a light grey color? i recently counted 12 “plane gas” trails within the space of an hour and then, within another hour the entire blue sky was blotted out by the “plane gas”

  7. 7 Ariel Winns August 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Hey guys how is it goin? I loved those pictures of you. Now, let me tell ya, that the second pic of the group “Cirrus Clouds” is not depicting plain gas since planes don´t fly that vertically. In my opinion, Those chemtrails are suggesting flying divases of a diferent nature, u know what I mean…

  8. 10 jeremybrett September 14, 2012 at 3:43 am

    does some of that diagram look to anyone else like a giant watching a man bugger a child? .. the giant’s the cumulonimbus and the buggery’s the cumulus

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