Photo credit – Simon Eugster

Cloud of the Day – Altocumulus


Photo credit – © Gi Gi

We’ve covered the major cloud types of the lower etage, from the surface to 6,500 feet. The cumulus clouds, from fair weather to thunder, and the layer clouds, stratocumulus and stratus, are the most common ones down here. Moving up to the middle etage, above 6,500 feet on up to 20,000 feet, we’ll begin with altocumulus. This cloud is just like stratocumulus, only higher up. If it’s at 6,500 feet it’s stratocumulus, and at 6,600 it’s altocumulus.

Like stratocumulus, altocumulus is an unassuming cloud. It’s only there because there happens to be enough water vapor in the air to condense out into water droplets. As the temperature drops with altitude, it eventually reaches the dew point and clouds form. Altocumulus has a lumpy appearance because of mild convectivity, but it has minimal vertical development. There’s no drama, other than the visual drama that can come with the right lighting. There’s no threat of exciting weather and precipitation is rare. Altocumulus are just clouds.


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6 comments for “Altocumulus

  1. emmylgant
    August 24, 2013 at 23:11

    Dear Jim

    With all due respect, a tiny sprite that flies up riding sunbeams and rides back down on snowflakes or misty rain confirmed my conviction that there is no such thing as “just a cloud”.

  2. August 25, 2013 at 07:00

    Well, it would be foolish to argue with a sprite.-)


  3. emmylgant
    August 25, 2013 at 23:03

    You are such a wise man. Laughing.

  4. August 27, 2013 at 19:49

    emmylgant has said all that needs to be said.

    • August 27, 2013 at 20:13

      Yes. She’s got those sprites helping out.-)


  5. December 2, 2013 at 06:12

    I like clouds that pose no excitement. These give a beautiful peaceful scene.

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