How clouds can help predict the future

Science & Technology

UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – If you’ve ever laid down to watch the clouds roll by you would see they all come in different shapes and sizes and no two look alike… or do they? Well, there’s more than meets the eye when you look up at the sky. Each cloud can be identified and used to help predict future weather. With a little training, you can spot similar clouds and know exactly what they mean! 

Clouds are mainly categorized by their height above and appearance (texture) from the ground. The high level clouds such as cirrus clouds are wispy, feathery clouds made up of ice crystals because they’re so high up in the sky; between 16,500 and 45,000 feet!

Mid level clouds such as altostratus are flat with a uniform type texture and lie roughly between 6,500 and 20,000ft. Altostratus clouds frequently indicate the approach of a warm front.

Low level clouds are below 6,500 ft and there are two main types, stratus (which develop horizontally), and cumulus (which develop vertically). One type of cumulus known as a cumulonimbus cloud has a large towering structure similar to an anvil and can produce heavy rain, hail, and even tornadoes!

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