25 Unbelievable Cloud Formations

Posted by , Updated on June 7, 2018

Unless you’re an avid cloud watcher, you may have never even give a second thought to the various types of clouds and the shapes and patterns they form high above your head. While you’ve no doubt seen some of these before, there is a good chance others will be completely new. In fact, some are so rare that you’ll probably never see them apart from lists such as this one. The cool part? Each cloud type has a different meaning. These are 25 Unbelievable Cloud Formations.


Roll Cloud

roll cloud

Often associated with thunderstorms or cold fronts, these clouds are usually low and tube shaped.


Shelf Clouds

shelf cloud

Also associated with cold fronts and thunderstorms, shelf clouds differ from roll clouds in that they are usually attached to the parent cloud directly above.


Cirrus Kelvin-Helmholtz

wave clouds

These slim, horizontal spirals tend to dissipate quickly after their initial formation making observation difficult. These wave-like clouds are caused by a difference in velocity across the interface of two fluids. In layman’s terms, you’re most likely to see these clouds when wind blows above the water. They are also referred to as Kelvin-Helmholtz Billow clouds.


Mammatus Clouds

mammatus cloud

These rare pouch-like clouds usually form after the thunderstorm has passed. Contrary to “common knowledge,” they do not indicate an imminent tornado (although they do look ominous).


Nacreous Clouds


Sometimes referred to as “mother of pearl” clouds, these can be found at altitudes of up to 20 miles. Usually seen in polar regions near the poles, they are known for their iridescent colors.

Photo: Featured Image - Gofororbit, Noctilucent clouds over Uppsala, Sweden, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 1. Gofororbit, Noctilucent clouds over Uppsala, Sweden, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 2. NOAA ESRL via wikimedia commons (Public Domain), 3. pixabay (Public Domain), 4. Omnisource5, Lenticular Cloud over Harold's Cross Dublin Ireland 30-6-15, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 5. pixabay (Public Domain), 6. H. Raab (User:Vesta), HolePunchCloud, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 7. TheAustinMan, Cumulonimbus Incus with LC-39A, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 8. Taken or created by Fir0002, Cirrus clouds2, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 9. Eduardo Marquetti, Cirrostratus fibratus with 22 degrees halo, CC BY-SA 2.0 , 10. wikimedia commons (Public Domain), 11. Mick Petroff, Morning glory clouds, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 12. pixabay (Public Domain), 13. Kr-val, Cirrus spissatus sweden, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 16. Agathman, Stratocumulus stratiformis opacus lacunosus undulatus asperitas, CC BY 3.0 , 17. JeremyaGreene, Pyrocumulus cloud in the Angeles National Forest California, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 18. David E. McIlroy smoothlennie, Wave-06137, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 19. wikimedia commons (Public Domain), 20. James St. John via flickr, Cumulus pileus cloud (9 July 2016) (Yellowstone, Wyoming, USA) 8, CC BY 2.0, 21. publicdomainpictures.net (Public Domain), 22. max pixel (Public Domain), 23. GRAHAMUK, Wavecloudsduval, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 24. pixabay (Public Domain), 25. wikimedia commons (Public Domain)

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