Head in the Clouds: Those White Things in the Sky

Sometimes, it’s okay to keep your head in the clouds. Although clouds consist of only condensed air and water, they come in many different shapes and forms and are fascinating to observe. Looking up at the sky can tell us many things about the weather, atmospheric conditions and even when we should run for cover. Learn more about the 4 main types of clouds below, and if you’re feeling brave, scroll to the bottom and take our ‘Name That Cloud’ quiz.


  • Cumulus clouds are the first thing that pops into most people’s minds when they hear the word cloud. These clouds appear white because they reflect the sun’s light, and look like oversized cotton balls that hang lower in the sky. Cumulous clouds are often made of water droplets and frequently indicate clear weather.


  • Cumulonimbus clouds are gigantic clouds that are fluffy and very tall. A subtype of cumulous clouds, they often signal danger and can be accompanied by major thunderstorms, tornadoes and lightning. Whenever you see cumulonimbus clouds, you should use WeatherBug’s Spark feature to tell you if there is lightning near so you can get to a safe place quickly.


  • Stratus clouds are often more grayish in color and ominous than cumulus clouds. They are dark and menacing, stretch horizontally, and can cover the entire sky. Stratus clouds can sometimes lead to drizzle and contribute to dreary rainy days without sunshine.


  • Cirrus clouds look wind-blown and wispy and are typically located higher in the atmosphere. They can appear like streaks or curls across the sky. Cirrus clouds are made of ice crystals and when you see them they can sometimes indicate a change in the weather to come.

Now, for the bravest among you: Test your knowledge with these cloud pictures below.  Answers are at the bottom of this post.

Weatherbug Camera DC

Credit: WeatherBug Live Cam Network

QUESTION 1: What are these clouds called?
a) Cumulus
b) Cumulonimbus
c) Cirrus
d) Stratus

4778467180_11930ccb32_o (1)

Credit: the real Kam75 via Flickr

QUESTION 2: Which type are these clouds?
a) Cirrus
b) Cumulonimbus
c) Cumulus
d) Stratus


Credit: oatsy40 via Flickr

 QUESTION 3: What type of clouds are shown above?
a) Cirrus
b) Cumulus
c) Stratus
d) Cumulonimbus

Weatherbug Camera

Credit: WeatherBug Live Cam Network

QUESTION 4: What type of clouds are these?
a) Cumulonimbus
b) Cirrus
c) Cumulus
d) Stratus

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This entry was posted in General.