Types of Clouds - Pictures to Inspire your Next Vacation!

The 8 types of clouds you might meet on your next trip

You know the story… the perfect sunset, or the most unique vista, and the one thing that makes it perfect are… the clouds. I love clear blue skies for miles, but clouds just add something special to it. And as you can see in this photo essay, clouds can be beautiful! Here are a few of the common types of clouds, pictures to match. Disclosure: I’m not cloud expert, so I’ve consulted our readers for their tips and recommendations. Enjoy 🙂

Orographic Cloud: Famous like Table Mountain, Capetown

A Orographic cloud is a cloud that hugs and tucks it self up around large geographic features, like mountains. This type of cloud isn’t as common, but they’re often famous, like the cloud that often hangs over Table Mountain in Capetown. As you may know, the geography can often affect the weather patterns, and since clouds are really just water vapor, orographic clouds can result.

Strato-cumulus: Perfect for Sunsets

Strato-cumulus are the type of clouds you want for your sunsets – they’re the ones that react so vividly to the reds and oranges of a good sunset. They’re flat on the bottom but fluffy on top, giving the sky such a surreal texture. Great for pictures – no Instagram filter required!

Cloud classifications were created in 1803. They’re actually Latin words that describe the type of cloud:
– Cirrus: tufts
– Stratus: layer
– Nimbus: rain bearing
– Cumullus: heap or pile

Nimbo-stratus: Usually Bad News

A nimbo-stratus is a type of cloud you don’t want to see on your trip – because this is the bearer of bad news. Nimbo-stratus are dark, flat, hang low and mean that rain is on the way.

The only bright side is that nimbo-stratus can part, making room for some lovely rainbow pictures, like the one above.

Cumulus: Hey, Do you see what I see?

Cumulus clouds are very common, and they’re my personal favorite. Why? Because they are the type of clouds that often resemble everyday objects – like one minute it’s a rubber duckie, and the next minute somebody sees a knight of armor. Cumulus clouds look great in travel pictures, because they give such a nice dimension to the sky.

What do you see in the photo above?

Cirrus: Streaks in the Sky

Cirrus clouds can be thin, wispy, or curly. They’re quite high in the atmosphere, hence why they have that airbrushed painting-like appearance. These clouds actually have ice crystals in them they’re so high up in the sky. They’re beautiful, too, as they come in many shapes and sizes.

Contrails: Man Made Clouds

Contrails, short for condensation trails, are formed by the water vapor hitting the exhaust from jet engines. Contrails only appear in cold, clear, humid air (though that doesn’t mean it has to be cold on the ground, just up at the altitude of the plane). Because they’re just water vapor, contrails are technically a type of cloud!

Cirro-stratus: Wispy

Cirro-stratus is a type of cloud that looks similar to others but it’s found very high in the sky; it’s similar to our friend cirrus, but in this case the streaks are usually a little more uniform, in bands or sheets.

While the random, natural effects of cirrus are beautiful, these cirro-stratus clouds are simply a work of art.

Fog: Better with a View

Last but not least, we have a cloud-y friend that we’re all familiar with: fog. Fog clouds are actually stratus clouds who have decided to hang out a bit too low.

Fog goes by many names in various parts of the world – San Francisco’s famous for fog, but have you heard of Scotland’s haar? Fog also plays a role in folklore and mythology in many parts of the world.

Fog isn’t always pretty when you’re in it – but if you can get some elevation, the view can be stunning.

Photo Credits: La Chiquita, james jordan, nicholas T, Andy Hayes, jasmic, nicholas T, tambako

The 8 types of clouds you might meet on your next trip

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of Plum Deluxe. He authors our award-winning weekly email newsletter, The Blend and curates our popular organic tea of the month club.

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