Cloud spotting guide

Use our cloud spotting guide and video to help identify different types of clouds in the sky.

To assist with identifying different clouds while cloud spotting we've created this useful infographic. Feel free to share and use on your own website or blog but please include a link back to the Met Office.

You can also download a printable version of the  cloud spotting guide cloud spotting guide (PDF, 295 kB) .

Click on the clouds to find out more about each cloud type.

Cloud types and pronounciations High Level Cirrus Cirrocumulus Cirrostratus Mid level Altocumulus Altostratus Low level Stratocumulus Nimbostratus Cumulus Cumulonimbus Stratus

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Video

We've also put together a cloud spotting video. In this video, James Chubb explains how clouds form and how to tell one cloud from another.

Cloud spotting guide
How do clouds form? How can you tell one cloud from another? In this video, James Chubb explains how clouds form and how to tell one cloud from another.

Cloud spotting transcript Cloud spotting transcript (PDF, 101 kB)

Last updated: 17 April 2013

  • What are clouds?
    Ever wondered what clouds are, the different types and how they form?

  • Cloud names and classifications
    Clouds are continually changing and appear in an infinite variety of forms. This is a guide to the 10 main named groups of clouds.

  • Low-level clouds
    Help with identifying low-level clouds - cumulus, cumulonimbus, stratocumulus and stratus.

  • Mid-level clouds
    Information on spotting medium-height clouds - altocumulus, altostratus and nimbostratus.

  • High clouds
    Identifying cirrus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus clouds. All high-level clouds have a base above 20,000 ft.

  • Other clouds
    Guide to observing other cloud phenomena including noctilucent night clouds and contrails.