Cirrus clouds

All high clouds are a type of cirrus, a common cloud that can be seen at any time of the year.

Symbol: Cirrus cloud symbol

Height of base: 18,000 - 40,000 ft

Shape: Layered, tufty or patchy

Latin: cirrus - lock or tuft of hair

Precipitation: None

Cirrus cloud Cirrus cloud

Cirrus are short, detached, hair-like clouds found at high altitudes. These delicate clouds are wispy with a silky sheen or look like tufts of hair. In the day time, they are whiter than any other cloud in the sky. While the sun is setting or rising, they may take on the colours of the sunset.

They are made of ice crystals which provides their white colour and form in a wide range of shapes and sizes. They often form in advance of a warm front where the air masses meet at high levels.

Similar clouds

  • Cirrocumulus
    Cirrocumulus are a relatively rare cloud forming ripples which may resemble honeycomb.

  • Cirrostratus
    The thin, layered Cirrostratus cloud is composed of ice crystals and forms a veil that covers all or part of the sky.

Last updated: 6 August 2014