Photo credit - © Francois Paris

Photo credit – © Francois Paris

Cloud of the Day – Stratus

Stratus doesn’t have the identity crisis of stratocumulus. While stratocumulus has features of both layer and cumulus (heap) clouds, but is really neither, stratus is a layer cloud all the way. Forming in calm, moist air, stratus has virtually no definition to it. It is so uniform and featureless that weather observers have difficulty determining the height of its base by eye alone. They have to release a balloon and, knowing its ascent rate, time its disappearance into the cloud. Or they could use an instrument such as lidar.

Photo credit: Nicholas_T / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Nicholas_T / Foter / CC BY

Stratus cloud, if it were touching the ground, would be fog. In fact, stratus often forms as a result of a fog lifting.

Precipitation can come from stratus, usually as drizzle or a dusting of snow grains, but it’s only because the air is so moist, rather than because of any real weather activity.


About arjaybe

Jim has fought forest fires and controlled traffic in the air and on the sea. Now he writes stories.
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4 Responses to Stratus

  1. emmylgant says:

    So it is a stratus that sits on my mountain and drips or rolls off occasionally… And I thought they were those really really high ribbon like clouds that hang out until they dissappear. ( no, not vapor trails, larger than that!)

  2. mixedupmeme says:

    I think I can tell these clouds by the sun peeping through. Seem harmless enough.

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