Altocumulus clouds and its phenomena

June 26, 2020

Altocumulus clouds are mid-level clouds that typically form between 2 to 6 kilometers (6,500 to 20,000 feet) above the ground. They are often characterized by their rounded and puffy appearance, appearing as a layer or patch of small white or grayish-white clouds.

Phenomena Associated with Altocumulus Clouds:

  1. Cloud Streets: Altocumulus clouds can align themselves in parallel rows, resembling streets of clouds. This formation occurs due to the interaction of atmospheric currents, creating a visually captivating pattern across the sky.
  2. Castellanus Clouds: Altocumulus clouds can occasionally develop vertical protrusions, resembling the turrets of a castle. These formations, known as castellanus clouds, indicate instability in the atmosphere and the potential for further cloud development.
  3. Mackerel Sky: When altocumulus clouds are spread across the sky in a pattern resembling fish scales or a mackerel's back, it is referred to as a mackerel sky. This phenomenon often signifies a change in weather conditions and can be a precursor to the arrival of a weather system.
  4. Undulatus Clouds: Altocumulus clouds can exhibit a wavy appearance, forming parallel rows with crests and troughs. This wave-like pattern, known as undulatus clouds, occurs due to the presence of wind shear and atmospheric instability.
  5. Virga: Altocumulus clouds sometimes exhibit virga, which refers to streaks or wisps of precipitation that evaporate before reaching the ground. This phenomenon creates visually striking patterns of precipitation hanging beneath the cloud base.

Altocumulus clouds are part of the broader family of cumulus clouds and can be observed in various weather conditions. Their unique formations and characteristics add beauty to the sky and provide valuable information to meteorologists studying atmospheric conditions and weather patterns.

Next time you spot altocumulus clouds in the sky, take a moment to appreciate the fascinating phenomena associated with these mid-level cloud formations.

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