Cumulus clouds

The fluffy, cauliflower-shaped cumulus are one of the most common and distinctive types of cloud. All cumulus clouds develop because of convection.

Symbol: Cumulus cloud symbol

Height of base: 1,200 - 6,500 ft

Shape: Cauliflower of fluffy

Latin: cumulus - heap

Precipitation: Occasional rain or snow showers

Cumulus cloud

Cumulus clouds are detached cauliflower shaped clouds usually spotted in fair weather. If they get bigger they can sometimes produce showers. The top of these clouds are mostly brilliant white when lit by the sun, although their base is usually relatively dark.

All cumulus clouds develop because of convection. As air heated at the surface is lifted, it cools and water vapour condenses to produce the cloud.

Near coasts, cumulus may form over the land by day as a sea breeze brings in moist air, which is then warmed by the land, and over the sea during the night as a breeze blows off the land over the sea, which is now warmer than the land.

Similar clouds

  • Stratocumulus
    Stratocumulus clouds consists of large, rounded masses of stratus that form groups, lines or waves.

  • Stratus
    Stratus clouds tend to be featureless, low altitude clouds that cover the sky in a blanket of white or grey.

Last updated: 7 August 2014