Q:

What are rain clouds called?

A:

Quick Answer

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.

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Full Answer

Stratocumulus clouds almost never produce rain, although they can turn into nimbostratus clouds if conditions allow. Mammatus clouds and green clouds are normally associated with severe weather, including hail or tornados. High types of clouds, above 18,000 feet, are known as cirrus clouds. Clouds above 6,500 feet to 18,000 feet are called alto clouds. Clouds below 6,500 feet are mainly the stratus clouds that may indicate rain.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How can cumulonimbus clouds produce rain and hail?

    A:

    Cumulonimbus clouds, also known as thunderheads, release hail and rain in conjunction with updrafts. Ice crystals ride such updrafts into the air and then fall through the clouds, collecting water droplets as they drop. Once water droplets freeze onto ice crystals, hailstones are created. Cumulonimbus clouds release rain when they have reached their moisture saturation point.

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  • Q:

    How do clouds make rain?

    A:

    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.

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  • Q:

    How do you measure clouds?

    A:

    Clouds can be measured by the height and appearance of the shape to determine weather conditions. Scientists often use a device, such as the micropulse lidar or infrared thermometer to determine a cloud's altitude and height.

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  • Q:

    Why do clouds form?

    A:

    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.

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