Courtney's Cloud Corner: Mid-Level Clouds | weatherology°
By: Meteorologist Courtney Steimann
Updated: Mar 16th 2019

Courtney's Cloud Corner: Mid-Level Clouds

Well high level clouds have a prefix “cirro-”, mid-level clouds usually start with “alto-” which means “mid”. These clouds can combine liquid water droplet, supercooled liquid droplets, and ice crystals all within one cloud since their level is between 6,500 to 20,000 feet high. It is not uncommon to see mid-level clouds with high level clouds since they have such a variety of different forms within the clouds. Even though there can be several different types of mid-level clouds, today’s discussion will only focus on the three main mid-level clouds. These three forms are: Altocumulus, Altostratus, and Nimbostratus.


  • Altocumulus are heaps of clouds at mid-level. They are commonly seen as white puffy clouds that can form from Altostratus clouds. Rows of cumulus clouds can be seen, which usually means turbulence within the layer. Virga can be seen from Altocumulus, as they can produce precipitation. As time passes, they can create deep convection in the form of towering cumulus.
  • Altostratus is a mid-level layered cloud. Often times, a warm or occluded front can trigger these layered clouds to form. They can be relatively thin in some areas which may allow the sunlight to peek through.
  • Nimbostratus is known for its dark layered appearance. They can produce rain, as the beginning of the word is “nimbo-” with means rain. They can be the next phase of Altostratus or can be form directly from warm or occluded fronts. Nimbostratus are clouds that are not associated with severe weather, but will create persistent rainfall. So be prepared and bring your umbrella and rain boots when you see Nimbostratus!

Next weekend Courtney's Cloud Corner will discuss different types of low level clouds!

Altostratus.
Altostratus can be a layer of clouds covering majority of the sky.
Altocumulus.
Altocumulus clouds can appear like little puffs of clouds in the sky.