The Cloud Gallery

Click a cloud name below to jump to that cloud type or scroll through and take a look at them all. 

Low Clouds

Stratus Clouds

Low stratus clouds over a conifer forest

Stratus clouds are low and gray. They often cover the entire sky. Stratus clouds that touch the ground are called fog. Usually, no rain falls from stratus clouds, but sometimes they make a drizzle. 


Ted Sakshaug

Stratocumulus Clouds

The sky, completely covered with stratocumulus clouds, with farm fields covering the land below

Stratocumulus clouds are low and puffy. They are like stratus clouds because they are long and often cover most of the sky. They have puffy edges like cumulus clouds. These clouds don't usually cause rain or snow.


Nicholas A. Tonelli

Cumulus Clouds

Small cumulus clouds dot the sky above a road through green forested land

Cumulus clouds are puffy shapes. They can look like pieces of floating cotton. The lower part of a cumulus cloud is often flat, and the top is rounded. These clouds grow upward and can grow into a cumulonimbus cloud, which makes a thunderstorm.

Nicholas A. Tonelli

Middle Clouds

Altostratus Clouds

Sky covered with a mostly uniform layer of altostratus clouds. A conifer tree in the foreground.

Altostratus clouds are made of ice crystals and water droplets. These clouds usually cover the entire sky. If the clouds are thin, the Sun might peek through, looking like a round disk. Altostratus clouds don’t make rain or snow, but you’ll often find them in the sky before nimbostratus storm clouds roll in.



Altocumulus Clouds

Small puffs on altocumulus clouds above an urban location with buildings and powerlines

Altocumulus clouds look like little puffs in the sky and are made of water droplets. They look smaller than cumulus clouds because they are farther away. Sometimes the puffs are all lined up in rows. If you see these clouds on a warm summer morning, a thunderstorm might happen by late afternoon.


Suzanne LaGasa

High Clouds

Cirrostratus Clouds

Cirrostratus clouds looking like a thin sheet high in the sky

Cirrostratus clouds look like a thin sheet that covers the entire sky. They are so thin that the Sun can be seen through them, and a halo will be visible around the Sun. (Remember to never look directly at the Sun!)



Cirrocumulus Clouds

Little puffs of cirrocumulus clouds high in the sky

Cirrocumulus clouds look like small, round puffs. Sometimes they look like little ripples in the sky. Cirrocumulus clouds are sometimes called a "mackerel sky" because they look like the scales of a fish called a mackerel.


Cirrus Clouds

Wispy cirrus clouds stretch across the sky over land with trees and grasses

Cirrus clouds are thin and wispy. They are made of ice crystals. They look long because they are blown by winds high in the sky. 


Jan Remund

Clouds that Make Rain and Snow

Nimbostratus Clouds

dark gray cover the sky, causing rain

Nimbostratus clouds form a dark gray, "wet" looking cloudy layer associated with continuously falling rain or snow. They often produce precipitation that is usually light to moderate.

Simon Eugster

Cumulonimbus Clouds

A cumulonimbus cloud causing rain in a mountain valley

Cumulonimbus clouds are thunderstorm clouds that form if cumulus clouds grow vertically. They can grow to more than 7 miles (12 kilometers) tall. Cumulonimbus clouds cause thunderstorms with lightning, thunder, and even tornadoes.