According to Met Office, clouds form when water vapor in the air condenses into tiny drops of water or ice crystals that then settle on dust particles in the atmosphere. Condensation happens when the air is saturated and cannot hold any more water vapor; this can occur when the amount of water in the air increases or when the air is cooled to its dew point.
According to Met Office, there are five factors that lead to the formation of clouds. Surface heating is when the ground is heated by the sun; the air in contact with the ground is then also heated and begins to rise, producing cumulus clouds. The topography of a region can cause the formation of clouds when air is forced to rise over hills or mountains and cools. Fronts, boundaries between warm air and cool air, cause cloud formation when a mass of warm air rises up over a mass of cold, dense air. The convergence of streams of air flowing from different directions and being forced to rise cause cumulus clouds to form. Finally, turbulence created by a sudden change in wind speed can form clouds. Because of the many ways in which clouds can form, there are a variety of cloud types of different shapes, sizes and textures.Learn More
Most commonly, rain clouds that produce a steady rain are referred to as nimbostratus clouds. These clouds appear low in the sky and are a medium to dark gray color. Sometimes stratus clouds are associated with a light drizzle.Full Answer >
A cumulus cloud develops from the bottom up in a vertical direction. When warm air rises and meets cool air, moisture in the air condenses and cools into water droplets that accumulate in a pile to form cumulus clouds with clearly defined edges.Full Answer >
Precipitation occurs when moist air rises to cooler altitudes, condensing the water out of the air into droplets. Once these droplets become heavy enough, often by coalescing around motes of dust or other particles, they fall out of the cloud as precipitation. Without significant updrafts bringing more moisture to the cloud layer, the condensed water may remain light enough to stay aloft, which is why not every cloud brings rain.Full Answer >
Altocumulus clouds are midlevel clouds that often presage cold fronts in temperate climates. The bottoms of these clouds can be found around 6,500 to 13,000 feet in the polar regions, and up to 20,000 feet in the tropics.Full Answer >