Cloud Height and Cloud Types

Clouds are classified by their height in the atmosphere and appearance.

Clouds form at three height layers:
Cloud Info High Level Clouds form at 16,000 - 45,000 ft (5 - 13 km) - Cirro Prefix
Cloud Info Mid Level Clouds form at 7,000 - 25,000 ft (2 - 8 km) - Alto Prefix
Cloud Info Low Level Clouds form at land surface - 7,000 ft (0 - 2 km)

Clouds are also classifed by appearance containing the following words:
Cirrus - wispy and thin.
Cumulus - Puffy appearance.
Stratus - Flat and/or layered.
Nimbus - Contain Precipitation.

Cloud Base Coverage :  Realtime Current Cloud base (Above Ground Level - AGL):  898 m  (Station is approx 18m ASL.)
No Metar
(Onsite Data)Cloud BaseView Detail
(Launceston (YMLT))Cloud BaseView Detail
  • This CloudBase script has been adapted from Bashewa's original Ver 2.1 script.
  • The Original was for Weather Display, Virtual Weather Station and WUHU.)
  • This version for Cumulus was developed from the Original Bashewa script
  • without reference to, or code from, any other Cloudbase script.
  • Cloudbase CU Script
  • The left most image (No Metar) uses only our onsite data for calculating Cloud Height (Above Sea Level - ASL) Station is approx 18m ASL.
  • The next image (Metar) uses only Metar data from Launceston Airport for calculating other cloud conditions, though too far away to be relevant. (Approx: 89.44 km Line of Site).
Convert Metres to feet and inches :
  Enter metres :      =    feet + inches
Original source for these and many other calculators may be found at CSG Network

High Level Clouds :
Cirrus (Ci)
  • Cirrus are high clouds which are composed of ice cystrals that originate from the freezing of supercooled water droplets.
  • They are thin and have a wispy appearance, and are often transparent.
  • Usually indicates a change in weather will occur within 24 hours.
Cirrocumulus (Cc)
  • Cirrostratus are high clouds, composed of ice crystals.
  • Appear as small individual cloudlets in rows. No shading can be seen on the lower surface.
  • Usually indicate fair weather for the near future.
Cirrostratus (Cs)
  • Cirrostratus are high clouds, composed of Ice Crystals.
  • Thin and uniform appearance, Often covering the whole sky. A halo of the sun or moon can usually be seen through the cloud.
  • Usually indicate rain or snow within the next 12 - 24 hours.

Mid Level Clouds :
Altocumulus (Ac)
  • Altocumulus are Mid level clouds composed of water droplets.
  • Similar to Cirrocumulus, but have larger individual cloudlets, and shading can be seen.
  • If seen in the morning, prepare for a thunderstorm in the afternoon.
Altostratus (As)
  • Altostratus clouds are mid level clouds composed of ice crystals and water droplets.
  • Generally uniform and grey in appearance, and frequently cover the entire sky. The sun or moon may also be seen through them, but is usually quite fuzzy.
  • Tend to indicate a storm some time in the very near future.

Low Level Clouds :
Stratocumulus (Sc)
  • Stratocumulus clouds are low level clouds composed of water droplets
  • Appear as low patches or sheets of grey to white cloud, with individual rolls or rounded masses.
  • Do not usually bring precipitation.
Stratus (St)
  • Stratus clouds are low level clouds composed of water droplets.
  • Appear as a uniform greyish layer and often cover the entire sky. They can sometimes cover hill tops.
  • Often bring drizzle or light snow.
Nimbostratus (Ns)
  • Nimbostratus clouds are low level clouds that might consist entirely of cloud droplets or raindrops, or of ice crystals and snowflakes.
  • They are thick grey clouds with a ragged base. Sometimes they cover the entire sky.
  • Indicate rain in the very near future.
Cumulus (Cu)
  • Cumulus clouds are low level clouds, composed of water droplets.
  • They are have a puffy appearence, a flat base and are white or light grey.
  • Indicate fair weather unless they grow vertically.

Vertically Developed Clouds :
Cumulonimbus (Cb)
  • Cumulonimbus clouds are Vertically Developed Clouds which are composed of water droplets and ice crystals.
  • Appear dark and very tall often extending through all the levels of altitude, and can be several miles wide. They often appear in a shape similar to a mushroom.
  • Usually indicate a storm in the near future. Rain, hail, thunder, lightning.

Other Clouds :
  • Contrails are visible trails of condensed water vapour made by the exhaust of aircraft engines.