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Stratus Clouds: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Stratus clouds form under specific conditions, and they have a unique appearance. In this lesson, explore how stratus clouds form and what makes them different from other types of clouds.

What Are Stratus Clouds?

Have you ever been walking around on a very foggy day? If so, you've actually walked inside of a stratus cloud! The word stratus comes from the Latin word strato. Strato means layer, so this is a clue for what kind of cloud a stratus cloud is. A stratus cloud is flat and stretches out quite a distance. These clouds are found at low altitudes, meaning they are closer to the Earth than other types of clouds. Stratus clouds can be nearly white in color, or darker gray.

Fog results when stratus clouds are close to the Earth.
fog among mountains

How Are They Formed?

We know that clouds are full of moisture, but exactly how does a stratus cloud form? It occurs when warm air from the Earth is lifted higher into the air. The warm air has moisture in it, and as it lifts it forms these flat, hazy clouds. Stratus clouds do not always remain stratus clouds. They can turn into different types of clouds depending on changes in temperature or movement in the atmosphere. Stratus clouds often form like a blanket of clouds, since they stretch out very far and are flat. It is possible for these flat, cloud blankets to change and become puffy cumulus clouds if conditions are right.

Stratus clouds can stretch for miles and look like a blanket covering the sun and sky.
Stratus clouds on an overcast day

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