How Do You Identify Stratus Clouds?

There are many unique types of cloud that can be spotted in the skies above, but what exactly is it that makes Stratus clouds specifically so interesting?

Ever wondered what a Stratus cloud is, and why you should try to look out for them when they’re above?

Then make sure to read on down below, because we have all of the answers you could ever possibly need regarding Stratus clouds!


A Stratus cloud is a type of cloud that hangs very low above the ground, and is best recognized as a type of cloud that you would expect to see on a gloomy and rainy day!

In fact, Stratus clouds can hang so close to the ground that they can also occasionally touch it, becoming fog!

There are two unique types of Stratus cloud that you may spot in the skies above. One is the Stratus Nebulosus, and this is a type of cloud that very easily goes overlooked.

These such clouds are recognizable because of their featureless appearances. They often appear very dully overhead, casting a gray pallor wherever they turn up.

The other species of Stratus cloud is the Stratus Fractus. These are relatively similar to Stratus Nebulosus, although they are slightly more visually distinct and interesting to look at.

You can easily tell Stratus Fractus apart from Stratus Nebulosus because they are made up of fragments from larger Stratus Nebulosus.

Despite making the weather look very dull and undesirable, Stratus clouds actually do not lead to very much precipitation at all, and very uncommonly will you experience rain directly from such clouds.

Stratus clouds are perhaps most frustrating because of the fact that they can directly obscure sunlight.

The variety of Stratus that can completely mask the sun is called Stratus Opacus, and this is the type of cloud that will make the weather look completely overcast and unwelcoming.

A slight obscuring of the sun is usually caused by a Stratus Translucidus, which is partly transparent, and allows some amount of sunlight through.

Though these types of Stratus are slightly more desirable, they still give the weather a cold and overcast look that is not very picturesque.


It is easy for Stratus and Altostratus clouds to be confused for one another, especially considering that they are both thin but wide clouds that cover entire layers of the sky.

However, Altostratus clouds are commonly much higher in the sky, which means that they cannot become fog, and they cannot obscure the tops of skyscrapers and other tall buildings.

If you are having trouble telling whether you are looking at Stratus or Altostratus clouds, then try to see if you can make out any high points in the distance.

If you live in a city, try to see if you can spot the tops of any buildings. If you can, then it is more likely that you are looking at an Altostratus cloud!


These are two types of clouds that are also similarly difficult to distinguish, thanks to the fact that they both hang low to the ground, around the same layer.

From directly underneath, these types of clouds actually look very similar.

However, if you spot unique fractures in the surface of the clouds above you, or it looks like the cloud is made up of a bunch of smaller clouds, then it is more likely that you are looking at a Stratocumulus cloud.

This is because Stratus clouds are mostly featureless and have very few distinguishing features that can help you to identify them.


This is quite difficult to do at a glance because the two clouds appear very similar. They are both often very dark gray in appearance, and both will obscure the sunlight if in the right position.

However, you will instantly know if you are looking at a Nimbostratus cloud if you notice that there is rain falling down from it.

Standard Stratus clouds do not contain much precipitation at all, so you will never likely see them rain.

You may also potentially be able to distinguish a Nimbostratus cloud if you were to observe it from afar.

This is because Nimbostratus clouds are typically very tall, and cover multiple layers.


Learning to identify Stratus clouds can be quite difficult considering how indistinct they appear, and how lacking in features they tend to be.

However, they can easily be distinguished from similar clouds by checking for precipitation or features in shape.

How Do You Identify Stratus Clouds?
People often confuse climate and weather - the two really are quite different.