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10 Fascinating Facts About Clouds

Clouds are amazing. Their endless forms can bring the beauty of a summer afternoon or even a sense of terror on a day that is stricken by tragedy.

When you see the variety of these soaring forms of atmospheric water, you can easily forget that they’re only atmospheric water. However, there’s a lot more to the cloud than what’s apparent.

Here are 10 fascinating tidbits about these essential elements of daily life.

1. They’re not weightless.

Clouds appear as if they weigh less than a handful of fabric. However, they’re actually heavier than they appear. A typical cumulus (fair weather) cloud could weigh over one million pounds, and a lively storm could pack trillions (if certainly not trillions) of pounds of water within a tiny region of the sky. However, all the weight appears to be floating in the sky. It’s somewhat uncomfortable and, simultaneously, amazing to contemplate.

2. CIRRUS CLOUDS are made of ICE.

Although most clouds appear to be made of tiny droplets of liquid water, there’s a particular kind of cloud made up of ice, namely Cirrus. These clouds are made up of ice crystals formed in the upper layers of the atmosphere as water vapor is deposited onto tiny particles, such as smoke or dust. The force of the wind then rips these clouds into pieces creating their famous fluffy appearance.

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Another thing often confused with the cirrus cloud is “virga,” or precipitation which evaporates before reaching the ground. The best thing about virga is it’s both beautiful to see and doesn’t cause any harm to your day. It indicates that the sky’s middle and lower areas are extremely dry. They’re usually too dry for precipitation or snow.


Although most clouds originate from naturally occurring processes, some also are the result of human activity. One of the most famous examples is a condensation trail, often referred to as a contrail for short. Contrails originate from the hot, humid jet exhaust condensing within the cold air in the upper atmosphere. The cirrus clouds may immediately disappear or last for hours, depending on the amount of moisture present.

5. Beware of the Supercell.

The majority of thunderstorms are peaceful. However, a small fraction of them is powerful enough to are able to last for hours and create an unimaginable amount of terror. These storms, referred to as supercells, are distinguished by a rotating updraft that acts as an engine. Apart from their huge hail and terrifying tornadoes, supercells are also known for their stunning appearance. The most striking feature of a supercell is its upward-moving updraft that appears like a column, which extends across the horizon until the sky.

6. ANVIL CLOUDS are the gorgeous consequence of a collision.

The most striking sighting that can be seen in the vicinity of a thunderstorm is a flat, thin cloud that spreads miles across as if it were an umbrella. This is called an anvil cloud. It happens when a storm’s updraft crosses the tropopause. This is generally the point where the air is buoyant but neutral and cannot climb by itself. The air is pushed into the layer as an overhang, expanding in all directions, creating this stunning characteristic.

7. If you spot an overskirt top, you should cover it.

Sometimes, however, an updraft can be so strong that a portion of the rising air blasts directly through the tropopause and continues to soar thousands (if not even hundreds) of feet over the peak of the storm. This causes an overshooting peak and a cloud that appears like a dome on the surface of a storm that is intense. If you spot an overshooting top on the edge of a storm, it’s best to get shelter because it’s bound to be a nightmare.

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8. SHELF CLOUDS ARRIVE in the spring and summer.

Shelf clouds can be typical during afternoon thunderstorms in the summer or spring. These clouds are able to roll across the sky like the shape of a wedge or shelf suspended above the surface ahead of heavy rain and wind. Shelf clouds are formed because of the cooling effect of rain air coming from a thunderstorm and embracing the ground in the shape of bubbles. The result is an outflow boundary that is like an ice front that scoops warm air over it. The shelf cloud is formed at the top of the cold air, forming a stunning scene.


If you’ve ever encountered Mammatus clouds, it’s likely that you’ve just had a bad weather experience or you’re going to experience an exciting ride very soon. The massive, bulbous protrusions hung from the heavens above a deck of clouds appear like mammary glands in humans or cows, which is why they’re called. The clouds are thought to have formed due to the extreme turbulence created by strong storms, giving them their smooth sparkling appearance.


Roll clouds are like shelf clouds, which form on the top of a boundary similar to the sea air or cold front. Like shelf clouds, however, they’re not connected to the deck of clouds. They are swung in the air like a tangled rope. They’re beautiful and awe-inspiring; as with every other cloud in this list, they’re also safe.

Harrison Jones
Harrison Jones
Harrison has been a freelance financial reporter for the past 6 years. He knows the major trends in the financial world. Jones’ experience and useful tips help people manage their budgets wisely.


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