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Cloud Types – The Michigan Weather Center
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Cloud Types

The following is cloud terminology according to NOAAs Cloud Atlas.

In meteorology we divide clouds in 4 clouds families, which are in different heights of the troposphere: High level clouds (altitudes of 5-13 km), medium level clouds (2-7 km), low level clouds (0-2 km) and clouds with large vertical extending (0-13 km).

These clouds families are divided in 10 cloud genus:  (note: having an issue with the example images – you can click on the name to get more info on the cloud type)

High level clouds at heights of 5-13 km
name abbr. example meaning
Cirrus Ci

Fibrous, threadlike, white feather clouds of ice crystals, whose form resembles hair curls.

Cirrostratus Cs

Milky, translucent cloud veil of ice crystals, which sometimes causes halo appearances around moon and sun.

Cirrocumulus Cc Fleecy cloud; Cloud banks of small, white flakes.
Medium level clouds at heights of 2-7 km
name abbr. example meaning
Altocumulus Ac Grey cloud bundles, sheds or rollers, compound like rough fleecy cloud, which are often arranged in banks.
Altostratus As Dense, gray layer cloud, often evenly and opaquely, which lets the sun shine through only a little.
Low level clouds at heights of 0-2 km
name abbr. example meaning
Stratocumulus Sc Cloud plaices, rollers or banks compound dark gray layer cloud.
Stratus St Evenly grey, low layer cloud, which causes fog or fine precipitation and is sometimes frazzled.
Clouds with large vertical extending at heights of 0-13 km
name abbr. example meaning
Cumulus Cu

Heap cloud with flat basis in the middle or lower level, whose vertical development reminds of the form of towers, cauliflower or cotton.

Cumulonimbus Cb In the middle or lower level developing thundercloud, which mostly up-rises into the upper level.
Nimbostratus Ns Rain cloud. Grey, dark layer cloud, indistinct outlines.
Other cloud pictures and appearances
name example meaning
other cloud photos These photos are not assigned to individual cloud families, because they e.g. show a chaotic sky with many different cloud types or undefinite photos.
other appearances Appearances, which fit into no other classifications.

Cloud species, subspecies and special forms

To each cloud family there are certain species, subspecies and special forms, which are to describe the appearance of the cloud families nearer. By clicking on the names you get to the pictures of the clouds, which are assigned to this species, subspecies or special forms.

cloud species
name abbr. meaning cloud families
calvus cal bald, smoothly Cb
capillatus cap haired, frayed, fibrously Cb
castellanus cas turrets-like Ci, Cc, Ac, Sc
congestus con huge, towered Cu
fibratus fib fibrously Ci, Cs
floccus flo flaked puffy Ci, Cc, Ac
fractus fra frazzled St, Cu
humilis hum low Cu
lenticularis len lense-shaped, almond-shaped Cc, Ac, Sc
mediocris med moderately Cu
nebulosus neb fog, veil-like Cs, St
spissatus spi dense Ci
stratiformis str layer wise Cc, Ac, Sc
uncinus unc hooked, comma-shaped Ci
cloud subspecies
name abbr. meaning cloud families
duplicatus du double and multilevel Ci, Cs, Ac, As, Sc
intortus in interlaced Ci
lacunosus la perforated (round frayed holes) Cc, Ac, seldom Sc
opacus op not shining through, darkly Ac, As, Sc, St
perlucidus pe transparent (by small gaps) Ac, Sc
radiatus ra radially, parallel bands and strips Ci, Ac, As, Sc, Cu
translucidus tr translucently Ac, As, Sc, St
undulatus un wavelike Cc, Cs, Ac, As, Sc, St
vertebratus ve skeleton-like, fishbone-like Ci
special forms
name abbr. meaning cloud families
arcus arc with gust collar Cb, seldom Cu
incus inc with anvil Cb
mamma mam sac-like, wart-like excrescences at the bottom side of the cloud Ci, Cc, Ac, As, Sc, Cb
pannus pan with frazzles As, Ns, Cu, Cb
pileus pil with cap Cu, Cb
praecipitatio pra with precipitation As, Ns, Sc, St, Cu, Cb
tuba tub with funnel cloud or tornado Cb, seldom Cu
velum vel with veil Cu, Cb
virga vir with drop strips Cc, Ac, As, Ns, Sc, Cu, Cb

Additionally the development of a cloud family can be described from other cloud families. If a new cloud family is developed, the designation of the mother cloud is attached with a “genitus”. Thus if a Cumulonimbus develops from a Cumulus, this cloud is designated as Cumulonimbus cumulogenitus (Cb cugen).

If the new cloud family did not develop yet, but the development goes there, the designation of the current cloud family is attached with a “mutatus”. Thus if the development of a Stratus goes to a Stratocumulus, this cloud is designated as Stratus stratocumulomutatus (St scmut).

Cooler temperatures can be expected the rest of the week, although highs will still be near to only slightly below normal.

Weak low pressure over the Ohio Valley and a cold front approaching from the northwest will bring clouds and scattered showers today and tonight.

High pressure will build back into the region on Wednesday resulting in decreasing clouds and dry weather which continues into Thursday.

Another chance of showers arrives late Thursday night and Friday with a cold front which ushers in a cool air mass for the weekend.

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Sandy (Hudsonville)
Sandy (Hudsonville)

WoodTV8 is calling for warmer temps next week. Tues high of 79 and Wed it will be 80 degrees. Our first 80 degree day coming soon!!


63* out warmer then wood 8 said today we will take it INDYDOG14!!


Thanks to the mild overnight low of 52 degrees, it looks like today will be another above average day. WOOD now has 73, 79 starting Monday!


For what it’s worth, the latest CFS weeklies give us above average temps every week until mid June.

ROCKY (Rockford)

I would rather use the current CPC forecasts and not one from several days ago, FYI. Feel free to see the CFS weeklies for yourself here:


ROCKY (Rockford)
ROCKY (Rockford)

What an April! Well below normal temps and above normal snowfall, 3 WWA and 1 WSW! The rest of this week we will have highs in the 50’s = more below normal temps! Clearly we are still entrenched in a below normal temp pattern! The facts rule and ROCK n ROLL will live forever baby!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

I don’t mind this weather at all. Yesterday got to warm for hard work outside, I’ll take 50s for as long as possible. But my favorite pattern we’ve been in for several years now is January’s and February’s with little snow, more thunderstorms than any other time of the year, and temps in the 50s and 60s. That is just peiceless!

ROCKY (Rockford)
ROCKY (Rockford)

What is priceless is even after all of that GR ended up with ABOVE NORMAL SEASONAL SNOWFALL! Incredible!

Andy W
Andy W

Who cares, Winter is over!! Time for 1 of the 2 best seasons of the year, Spring and then Fall!

ROCKY (Rockford)
ROCKY (Rockford)

Who cares you say? I am glad that you asked. HERE IS A LIST OF THE PEOPLE THAT CARE! I do, anyone who likes SNOW, anyone who likes winter and anyone that likes to look at weather stats! Do you have anymore questions?


A week left in April, and GR has almost already exceeded the coldest April mean temperature. So it’s clear we won’t come close to setting an April record.

Detroit is reporting a mean of 40.4 – which is only 7.5 degrees away from normal and closing fast from where they were a week or so ago.


The temperature reached 74° here in Grand Rapids yesterday (75° at my house) The grass this morning is noticeably greener then it has been. And my daffodils are now in full bloom but the tulips still have a long way to go yet but warmer temperatures and any rain will push them along. As for the trees well there are buds on them but it will be into May before we see any sign of leaves on the trees this year. That has been the tread over a large part of the Great Lakes and Midwest this year. This spring… Read more »


GR hit 74 degrees yesterday – 12 degrees above average and outperforming forecasts yet again. Looks like we will see more 70’s in less than a week. The GFS forecast is even warmer today than it was yesterday.

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

Are we in store for another storm-free spring?


it has been a slow start to the tornado season in tornado ally

Mark(East Lansing)
Mark(East Lansing)

Thanks Slim. So it’s not just us.