Cloud hero

Become a cloudspotter

Need to wind down? Why not just drop everything and look at the sky, if just for a moment?

October 2022
It may not be like the 1970s jogging craze or the yoga movement of the 2000s, but cloudspotting – looking up and admiring clouds and cloud formations – has many friends including more than 50,000 people that have joined the Cloud Appreciation Society (yes, there is one). Some look for entertainment, others for weather. Whatever the reason, it’s worth lifting your gaze once in a while.
Cloud Cirrus


Cirrus – lock or tuft of hair. Silky, wispy clouds that look like they’ve been swiped right (or left). These create a sunset. Height of base: 6,000–12,000m. Precipitation: None.


Cirrus – lock or tuft of hair; stratus – flattened or spread out. Transparent clouds that can cover thousands of kilometers of sky. Resemble stripes on a painting. Height of base: 6,000–12,000m. Precipitation: None.

Cumulus cloud


Cumulus – heap. Cotton candy, cauliflower-types, often with a dark base. Height: 400–2,000m. Precipitation: Occasional rain or snow showers.

Cloud Cumulonimbus

(“King of Clouds”)

Cumulus – heap; nimbus – rainy cloud. Multi-level towers. The only clouds that can produce thunder and lightning. Height: 300m-2,000m. Precipitation: Heavy rain and thunderstorms.


Nimbus – rainy cloud; 
stratus – flattened or spread out. Dark gray, can block the sun. In other words, bad news. Height of base: 700–3,500m. Precipitation: Continuous rain or snow likely.

Cloud Altocumulus


Altum – height; cumulus – heap. Patches of clouds in a range of shapes (think intro to The Simpsons). Height of base: 700-6,000m. Precipitation: None on its own.


Stratus – flattened or spread out. Low hanging patches of clouds with fuzzy edges.Height: 0–2,000m. Precipitation: Light.

Altostratus clouds

Altum – height; 
stratus – flattened or spread out. Made of a mixture of water and ice crystals that allow sunlight to shine through them. Unlike with nimbostratus clouds, the sunlight is too weak to cast shadows. Height of base: 2,200–6,000m. Precipitation: None.

Stratocumulus cloud


Stratus – flattened; 
cumulus – heap. Most common cloud type, masses of stratus, colors vary from bright white to gray. Height: 400–2,000m. Precipitation: Light drizzle.


Cirrus – lock or tuft of hair; cumulus – heap. Rare. Small clouds grouped together high up on the sky like ripples. Height of base: 6,000–12,000m. Precipitation: None.

Text by Risto Pakarinen