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WEATHER UNIVERSITY: Curious about clouds

Ever-changing skies over New Waterford, N.S. Adeline McDonald says that, moments after she took the photo of these interesting clouds, the pink highlights disappeared. By the way, these are lovely cumulus fractus clouds!
Ever-changing skies over New Waterford, N.S. Adeline McDonald says that, moments after she took the photo of these interesting clouds, the pink highlights disappeared. By the way, these are lovely cumulus fractus clouds! - Contributed

The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store when I overheard a woman say: “Go ahead Liam, ask her.”
Before I had a chance to turn around, a little boy was by my side, looking up at me with the most inquisitive eyes.  “Excuse me Miss Day, but do you know how many different clouds there are in the sky?”
Big question for a little guy. Great question though!

There are three families of clouds that make up cloud types; they include cirrus “curl of hair” clouds; cumulus “heap” clouds; and stratus “layer” clouds.  Cirrus clouds are wispy and high in the atmosphere. Stratus clouds are low and gray. Cumulus clouds look like cauliflowers.
Then, combinations of these different families of clouds make up 10 different types of clouds, which include: cirrus, cirrocumulus, cirrostratus, altostratus, altocumulus, nimbostratus, stratus, stratocumulus, cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. 
Did you know, while puffy cumulus clouds might look like cotton candy, they weigh a lot more! The average cumulus or “fair weather” cloud can weigh more than a 450,000 kilograms or the equivalent of 100 elephants! 
Keep looking up - you never know what you’ll see!

Read more about clouds

Read more Weather University columns.

Have a weather question, photo or drawing to share with Cindy Day? Email weathermail@weatherbyday.ca

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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