Cirrus – meaning curl (as in a lock of hair) or fringe cumulus

cumulus – meaning heap or pile stratus

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cumulusmeaning heap or pile

  • stratus – meaning spread over an area or layer.

    Nimbus means rain-bearing, and alto means high. The following are some of the more common clouds used to predict weather in three categories – high-level, mid-level and low-level clouds.

    High-level clouds

    The bases of these clouds form at about 6200 metres above sea level. They are usually composed of ice crystals.

    • Cirrus clouds – thin, wispy clouds strewn across the sky in high winds. A few cirrus clouds may indicate fair weather, but increasing cover indicates a change of weather (an approaching warm front) will occur within 24 hours. These are the most abundant of all high-level clouds.

    • Cirrocumulus – like ripples or fish scales (sometimes called a mackerel sky). When cirrus clouds turn into cirrocumulus, a storm may come – in tropical regions, that could be a hurricane.

    • Cirrostratus – like thin sheets that spread across the sky and give the sky a pale, whitish, translucent appearance. They often appear 12–24 hours before a rainstorm or snowstorm.

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