Towering Cumulus

Photo credit - carptrash - cc-by-sa

Photo credit – carptrash – cc-by-sa

Cloud of the Day – Towering Cumulus

Photo credit - Patt Frantz - copyright

Photo credit – Patt Frantz – copyright

Towering cumulus, also known as cumulus congestus, is what happens to fair weather cumulus if the atmosphere is more unstable. The stability of the atmosphere depends on several factors, such as the temperature gradient and the amount of water vapor in the air. When the temperature drops rapidly with height, the air is more inclined to boil up, and more water vapor means there’s more energy to help it. Where there is nothing to limit vertical development, rising air and moisture can build up into these robust towers. Identified by their substantial vertical size, which is often well over six thousand meters, and their patented “cauliflower” tops, these clouds are the big brothers in the cumulus family. Still no rain though, from towering cumulus. I know what Wikipedia says, but I think the definition of towering cumulus ends when precipitation starts.


9 comments for “Towering Cumulus

  1. July 22, 2013 at 16:58

    In 1996 I saw the towering cumulus in Wyoming one evening while on my way to Denver. The cloud had a lightning storm going on inside it. There were smaller fingers of cloud jutting out from the sides of the main cloud and lightning was traveling between them and the main cloud. It was an awesome show I’ve not seen again.

  2. July 22, 2013 at 17:06

    Were you on the plains? You can really get a good look at them out there.


    • July 22, 2013 at 20:17

      Yes. The locals said they had never seen a sight like that before.

      • July 23, 2013 at 16:58

        It is planted as a life long memory.
        Last night, in our Edmonton sky, we had a towering cumulus, very similar to one of your photos. It was the one with the horizontal cloud topping the vertical cloud. The amazing part was the way the sun shone on on the back puffy column with the centre puffy column being gray and the front puffy one being pink.

  3. July 22, 2013 at 20:56

    It must have been impressive.


  4. July 23, 2013 at 17:03

    Did you take a picture? I could post it here.


  5. July 24, 2013 at 23:09

    I am so glad you dispel misconceptions and enlighten my dreamer vision! These clouds are spectacular and enchanting. When I lived in Tampa, I often saw them rise up and look fierce, but no rain ( hear Sting “There’ll be clouds but no rain” just about now). Thank you.

  6. July 25, 2013 at 06:23

    You’re welcome.

    Your chief porter and misconception dispeller,-)


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