Cumulonimbus clouds

Symbol: Cumulonimbus cloud symbol

Height of base: 1,100 - 6,500 ft

Shape: Fibrous upper edges, anvil top

Latin: cumulus - heap; nimbus - rainy cloud

Precipitation: Heavy rain and thunderstorms

Cumulonimbus cloud (Photo: Matthew Clark)

Cumulonimbus are heavy and dense low-level clouds, extending high into the sky in towers, plumes or mountain shaped peaks. Commonly known as thunderclouds, the base is often flat and very dark, and may only be a few hundred feet above the Earth's surface. Cumulonimbus clouds are associated with extreme weather such as heavy torrential downpours, hail storms, lightning and tornados.

If there is thunder, lightning or hail, it's a cumulonimbus cloud rather than nimbostratus.

Last updated: 18 April 2016

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