Clouds can look rather differently, which too many grow up without any awareness of.  I have read about people suddenly discovering there is more than one kind of cloud.  Before this they wrongfully believed all clouds to look the same.  My experience is not at all like that.  To the opposite I have seen varying clouds as long as I can remember.  Which is all the way back to the late 80ies.  To me it appears sensible that most of them are natural.

As long as there have been sufficiently good cameras varying clouds have been photographed.  There are artistic depictions of differently-looking clouds since at least the early 19th century.  Current classification of clouds has been developed out of Luke Howard’s.  He published a book on the subject in 1803.  In this he gave Latin names to seven different kinds of clouds.  Nowadays clouds are classified in 20 different types.  One of them is fog which is clouds on the ground.

Apart from fog clouds are divided in seven different levels:

Night shining clouds are 64 – 84 kilometres (250,000 – 280,000 feet) up.  Most closely they resemble collections of threads glowing against the dark sky.  They are divided in three different types depending on their more precise shape.

• Stratospheric clouds are on the altitude of 15 – 25 kilometres (49,000 – 82,000 feet).  These can be iridescent, lenticular or feather shaped.  Iridescent clouds look like sheets shimmering in different colours.  Lenticular clouds are more or less round and feather clouds are more filamentous.

• High-level clouds are on the altitude of 5 – 15 kilometres (16,000 – 49,000 feet).  One type is veil clouds which are thin and without clear structure.  Others are filamentous feather clouds and spread-out mackerel clouds.  The later look like balls being spread-out over the sky.

• Mid-level clouds are on the altitude of 2 – 7 kilometres (7,000 – 23,000 feet).  These consist of layer clouds and heap clouds.  Layer clouds cover large areas and have a visible structure of waves.  Heap clouds are lower versions of the mackerel clouds mentioned above.

• Towering vertical clouds are on the altitude of 0.5 – 16 kilometres (2,000 – 52,000 feet).  These can be towering clouds or thunderclouds.  Towering clouds look like irregular lumps.  Thunderclouds have a characteristic shape by being flatter on the top.

• Multi-level clouds are on the altitude of 0.5 – 5.5 kilometres (2,000 – 18,000 feet).  These are also called rain clouds and are divided in two types depending on their extension in altitude.

• Low-level clouds are on the altitude of up to 2 kilometres (7,000 feet).  These are divided into fog clouds, twain clouds, fair weather clouds and cloud rags.  Fog clouds lack visible structures while twain clouds are more irregular.  Fair weather clouds are flat lumps while cloud rags are filamentous like cotton candy.

The point is all these cloud types may form completely naturally.  They have been there all the time without some noticing.

In addition aircraft may affect the looks of clouds too.  Airplanes going through a layer of clouds can form circular or elliptical holes.  These are called fallstreak holes due to the cloud rag below.  During certain weather conditions a trail of ice crystals can form after airplanes on high altitude.  These are called contrails and can be differently long-lived.  People not familiar with them have misunderstood such as “chemtrails”.  Trouble is, it is not possible to spread something visible that far.  20 – 300 kilometres (12 – 187 miles) of trails would require far too much substance.  There is no chance on Earth one could fit that into an airplane.

Finally, I want to point out there is a difference between hurricanes and tornadosHurricanes are large weather systems moving hundreds of miles.  The ones formed in the tropics can move a couple of thousands of miles.  The damage they cause is both from wind and the precipitation they bring with them.  Tornadoes are local phenomena no larger than that one sees the whole from the ground.  Such a one causes damage just through its exceptional wind.


Uploaded on the 28th of May 2024.