University of Illinois Extension

Cumulus, Stratus, and Cirrus

There are three main cloud types.

Cumulus clouds are the puffy clouds that look like puffs of cotton. Cumulus clouds that do not get very tall are indicators of fair weather. If they do grow tall, they can turn into thunderstorms. The bottom of cumulus clouds are fairly close to the ground.


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Stratus clouds look like flat sheets of clouds. These clouds can mean an overcast day or steady rain. They may stay in one place for several days.


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Cirrus clouds are high feathery clouds. They are up so high they are actually made of ice particles. They are indicators of fair weather when they are scattered in a clear blue sky.


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