25 Unbelievable Cloud Formations

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.

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