What are Clouds? - Types & Facts

Instructor: Jeff Fennell

Jeff has a master's in engineering and has taught Earth science both domestically and internationally.

In this lesson we will go over the different types of clouds and with what type of weather they are associated. You can also test your knowledge after with a quiz.

On almost any given day, you may have noticed that there are several different types of clouds. The clouds on a sunny day look a little different than those on rainy days or those during thunderstorms. The variety of clouds is caused by different conditions in the atmosphere, and they can indicate upcoming weather.


Low Clouds


Stratus clouds are white or grey clouds that usually blanket the entire sky. They can also look like fog that does not reach the ground. Stratus clouds usually don't produce much rain, although they can produce light rain occasionally.

stratus clouds

Middle Clouds (6,000 - 20,000 ft.)


Higher up are grey, middle-level clouds. Altostratus clouds are composed of water droplets and sometimes look like rolling waves. On warm summer morning, if these clouds are present, it often means thunderstorms may occur by late afternoon, though this isn't as common as it is with Cumulus clouds.



These clouds align into rows and are caused by convection in the atmosphere. If these clouds are present in the morning, there is a good chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon.

High Clouds


Cirrus clouds are thin clouds blown by high winds into long streams. Sometimes the clouds can form streams thousands of miles long. They form above 20,000 feet (6,000 mi.). In terms of weather, they tend to occur on pleasant, mild days.


To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account