The Fair Weather And Puffy Cumulus Clouds
Sometimes, you just want a fair lovely day, it really isn’t that much to ask – especially for those living in more grim climates.
However, when you see a cloud on the horizon, you may have already resigned yourself to miserable weather yet to come.
We are here to tell you that not all clouds are like this, and in fact there are plenty of clouds that are marvelous in their own right. Take Cumulus clouds, for example.
They are clouds that will bring you nothing but a pleasant sight on the horizon, and today we are going to describe these clouds in more detail.
CUMULUS CLOUDS: DESCRIPTION
A cumulus cloud is the clouds you see in most Bob Ross paintings – the ‘happy, little clouds’.
They look like a mix between a cotton ball and an unshorn sheep and, even though they come in a range of shapes and sizes, they are the kind of cloud that most people on the street would visualize when you asked them to think of a cloud: white, bouncy, round, and puffy.
While there are an unending amount of shapes that Cumulus clouds can take, there are generally only four sizes that they can come in.
If the cumulus cloud is wider than it is tall and is slightly flattened in appearance, then that cloud is a Cumulus Humilis.
These are most often seen in summer time and are usually separated from each other.
While they normally indicate fair weather, if they congregate they can indicate bad weather later in the day.
If the Cumulus cloud is as wide as it is tall, then that cloud is a Cumulus Mediocris.
As with the Cumulus Humilis, they are often seen in fair weather and don’t really cause alarm, however if unstable pressure is present, they can turn into a Cumulus Congestus over time.
If a Cumulus cloud is taller than it is wide, then that cloud is a Cumulus Congestus.
While Cumulus Congestus are normally spotted in fair weather, their presence can mean stormy weather later on.
The fact that they are tall means that air and water vapor is rising, increasing the cloud size.
Over time, this may build and build, until it becomes a Cumulonimbus cloud or a Thundercloud.
Cumulus Congestus can bring rain, like Cumulonimbus, but the rain is not as heavy and for not as long, as well as not including the other features of a storm cloud.
Even with the potential for rain and even to become a storm, these clouds are still classed as fair weather clouds, due to the fact that they themselves don’t really cause poor conditions (it’s more what they can become).
The last Cumulus cloud is the Cumulus Fractus.
These clouds are often seen in the evening or on windy days and are the result of larger clouds being broken up in the evening or becoming ragged from the weather.
They don’t really have much in the way of features and will disappear quickly.
HOW DO CUMULUS CLOUDS FORM?
Cumulus clouds are formed in areas of unstable air or places of low pressure, where the heat from the ground has warmed the air, and it is now rising into the atmosphere.
As it rises away from the warm sunlight or the ground, it begins to cool rapidly, allowing the vapor to condense and form into visible clouds.
These clouds form the top of a rising column of air that is making its way into the atmosphere, but the coolness of the atmosphere has stopped it rising any further.
Cumulus clouds typically appear at around 3000 to 6000 feet above ground, but if the atmosphere is hotter, they can rise higher.
Once they reach this point, the cloud will begin to drift along the sky, pushed by the column of air below.
As it gets heavier or if the air stops rising, it will sink and slowly drift towards the ground.
If they are forced to rise by unstable air pressure, the Cumulus clouds will become Cumulus Congestus, which can rise to 39,000 feet.
These clouds are towering monoliths that – given enough time, air, water vapor, and pressure – will become Cumulonimbus clouds.
If this does not happen, though, the normal Cumulus clouds will drift until they begin to break up.
This can happen because air pressure ceases, water vapor is lessened, or that they got too close to the ground, and they bumped into something (like a mountain).
They will then become Cumulus Fractus, before disappearing completely.
Cumulus clouds are beautiful, natural wonders that drift along the sky and inform us of the fair day ahead of us.
They are not something to fear, but they deeply inspire the human imagination and our art, while being nothing short of happy little clouds.