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Learn the different types of clouds

Learn the different types of clouds - image of clouds.

What’s the idea?

Learn about the different types of clouds and what they mean for our weather. A perfect activity during the solstice as our weather (hopefully!) improves.

What’s the story?

I have always been fascinated by the weather.

Geography was my favourite subject at school and I loved learning about the different meteorological systems.

Different types of clouds all indicate what’s in store for our weather.

My husband is a pilot and he knows all about the clouds.

He needs to interpret them to better understand what weather to expect during a flight.

Clouds also make for the best sunsets.

They can create a paintbrush effect across the sky and highlight all the beautiful golden and pink sunset colours.

Especially stunning when reflected on the water.

People should do this because…?

Summer Solstice occurs on the 20th of June in the Northern Hemisphere, indicating midsummer and longer daylight hours.

There will be more blue sky and an opportunity to study the different types of clouds.

During gloomy winter when it’s often just a blanket of grey, it can be more tricky to notice.

Cloud watching is a great picnic activity which you can do from your very own garden.

Let your imagination run wild as you watch the different clouds turn into all sort of shapes.

I’ve seen dragons, hippos and even flamingos!

How do you do it?

Watching clouds is an activity that can be done from anywhere.

A favourite spot of mine is a soft spot on the lawn.

  • Lie on a blanket, towel or yoga mat.
  • Try to avoid looking directly at the sun.
  • Too bright? Move to a shadier spot where you can still see the clouds.

Clouds are made up of tiny water droplets and ice crystals floating in the air.

Warm air rises and meets colder temperatures.

Gas turns to liquid when this happens and clouds are formed via convection.

There are up to one hundred different types of clouds and cloud combinations.

Usually, they are categorised by the level at which they form.

Here are the three most common types of cloud:


These are some of the highest clouds you will see.

They are light, wispy and thin as they are made up of ice crystals.

A few cirrus clouds in a blue sky usually means it’ll be a pleasant day.

If they are combined with stratus clouds they are called cirrostratus, and you can expect the weather to turn in a day or so.


Look like cotton candy.

Cumulus means ‘pile’ in Latin and they often join up and form bigger clouds.

Fluffy and scattered in the sky: they don’t indicate rain.

Pile up and turn dark and grey: they can signal rain.

During this, they are called cumulonimbus and are often associated with thunderstorms.

Nimbus clouds are clouds that already have snow or rain falling from them.


Stratus clouds appear as a thick and often grey blanket covering the sky.

Often bringing dreary rain in winter, we are all too familiar with these.

When it’s raining they become strato-nimbus.

If it is very cold they will bring snow instead.

Stratus clouds will form fog if they are near the ground.

Stuff you may need

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