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Thread: Clouds

  1. #1
    Trainee Pilot Mike Calvert's Avatar
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    Clouds

    So, thankyou MadamBreakneck for this super helpful advice in on of the introductions threads (here : http://www.microlightforum.com/showt...784-New-Member)

    basically clouds have three names (or only two if below about 10,000 feet)

    First name - indicates height band = eg alto or cirro (or nothing mentioned if in lower air)

    Second name - indicates basic form = eg cumulus (lumpy) or stratus (layered)

    Third name - distinguishing features = eg lenticularis (lens-shaped) or humilis (not very big) or nimbus (rain producing)

    NB, there can be loads of different cloud types in the sky at the same time, in different places and at different heights.

    Next, try to understand what's causing the cloud - air blowing over surface features, frontal systems, or convection, or whatever

    Then try to understand the structure of frontal systems - and finally, the air masses because they are what controls most UK weather.
    Now, to help me, and maybe anyone else trying to learn cloud names, I though one thread to look at this might help??

    I'll start with an attempt or two - please feel free to correct me on any of this!!

    First Name (Height) : low, so no name
    Second Name (Basic form) : cumulus (fluffy, flat bottom)
    Third name (features) : small
    = Small Cumulus (err, ok, so that's 2nd & 3rd name reversed?)
    IMG_20200511_122632.jpg



    First Name (Height) : low
    Second Name (Basic form) : cumulus
    Third name (features) : fracto (varies from a wisp to a lump of ragged edged cloud, missing the flat bottom)
    = Fracto-Cumulus (err, ok, so that's 2nd & 3rd name reversed again?)
    IMG_20200511_122647.jpg



    First Name (Height) : low, so no name
    Second Name (Basic form) : cumulus (fluffy, some have flat bottom)
    Third name (features) : some have the flat bottom, others don't
    = mix of small cumulus and fracto-cumulus ?
    IMG_20200511_160635.jpg


  2. #2
    Co-Pilot Martin Watson's Avatar
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    Although meteorology is a science I wouldn't say naming clouds is an exact science

    To me your first two are pretty much the same - small cumulus clouds. They are further away in the second pic, but I think that's the only difference.
    Third one is a bit trickier - maybe I'd call it a mix of strato-cumulus and small cumulus. In any event it has that look of rather tired old cumulus that is no longer being fed by active convection - glider pilots seeing this towards the end of the day need to be nearly home or picking fields to land in...
    Martin
    BMAA 5370


  3. #3
    Captain kawasakiinit's Avatar
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    hey mike there is only room for one dick dastardly in these parts lol. welcome bud.
    The more people I meet the more I love my cat..


  4. #4
    Captain MadamBreakneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Watson View Post
    Although meteorology is a science I wouldn't say naming clouds is an exact science

    ...
    Indeed, but trying to maintain the latin naming, those small ("fair weather") cumuli would be cumulus humilis, or 'humble' (?) lumpy clouds.

    Don't forget that meteorology is a very complex subject and many people make their entire careers studying it in great detail. My categorisation which you quote (thank you) is only a starter guide. What you need as a beginner pilot is to be able to recognise the signs of stable weather and changing weather. If it's rubbish and going to stay rubbish then you ain't flying. if it's good and gonna stay good, then yippee! If it's bad and going to get better, then hang around. If it's good and going to get bad, then beware - better people than us have been suckered.

    At that level, Cosgrove is a good starter. He also did another book "Pilot's Weather" which I've not read but have heard recommended. Wikipedia's often a good source, at least when the topic is not controversial.

    Cloud names are a jargon to simplify discussion amongst those that know (like any jargon). The problem is that to join in the discussion, you need to learn some of the jargon. Clouds re a visible sign of moving air. I used to encourage my students to look at clouds and try to work out what the air in, around, and beneath them is doing.

    So... generally agreeing with Martin.
    1st pic. Fair weather Cu indeed. Notice that they are quite shallow, wider than high. This indicates that the convection which caused them is limited in altitude. If you fly below them it'll be bumpy to some degree but if you fly above them it'll be smoother. Just don't get trapped above them if they close up - they are unlikely to on the day pictured, at least for a while.
    2nd pic. As Martin says. Additionally you've got some scraps of left over low cloud that are evaporating away, they'll not be around long. They could be class, I suppose, as Cumulus Fractus. And, of course, there's that rare sight in these locked down skies, a vapour trail left by a high flying aircraft.
    3rd pic. Again as Martin says. See how the nearer cumulus clouds are losing their individual nature and spreading out. They're losing energy and the air under these will likely be less bumpy than under those in pic1.

    Get the idea?

    Joan

    Warning. Even in these lock-down days, I won't have time to do the same exercise for all the other cloud types.
    You might find this web site interesting: International Cloud Atlas.



    Back to just bimbling in the TST.

    No longer instructing - just pontificating..

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to MadamBreakneck For This Useful Post:

    Mike Calvert (12-05-20)


  6. #5
    Trainee Pilot Mike Calvert's Avatar
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    Awesome explanation! Thank you


  7. #6
    Training Captain Gentreau's Avatar
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    And don't forget the puffy clouds that form around the tops of hills.

    They have a special name, "Cumulus Granitus" - The cloud with the soft outside and the hard centre !
    The three most useless things in aviation:
    • The air above you.
    • The runway behind you.
    • The fuel in the bowser.


    Rule #1: Always tie your aircraft to the largest heaviest object available. The planet Earth meets these requirements and is readily available in all locations.
    Rule #2: The great thing about twin engined aircraft is, if one engine fails, the other engine always has just enough power to get you to the scene of the crash.

    Semper specto in clara parte vitae.

    .

  8. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Gentreau For This Useful Post:

    Halibut (17-05-20), jpmasso (14-05-20), MadamBreakneck (12-05-20)


  9. #7
    Captain MadamBreakneck's Avatar
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    Mike, you might find this time lapse video of recent cloud activity (from Facebook)

    https://en-gb.facebook.com/airbourne...9597983679792/

    You can see the dynamic behaviour in the strong wind and unstable air mass. At about 20 seconds you can see a cloud depositing a shower.



    Back to just bimbling in the TST.

    No longer instructing - just pontificating..


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