Clouds – Theory tips – RYA Day Skipper & Yachtmaster

Weather is one of the more difficult areas of sailing theory to understand - and remembering the names of cloud types is one of the most tricky areas.

What are clouds?

Clouds are produced through condensation. The air rises, cools - and with the reducing temperature the air can hold less water vapour so condensation occurs. The condensation makes tiny drops (each m3 of air contains 100,000,000 droplets) of water or ice crystals which settle on dust particles - which form the droplets. Whether the droplets are ice or water depends on the height (and the temperature) of the cloud.

The water droplets (or ice crystals) then start sticking together - forming the clouds. Clouds are made up of either water droplets or ice droplets depending on the height and air temperature.

Great video from the UK Met Office

High clouds – cirrus / cirro

These are clouds over 6000m high. They include:

Medium height clouds – alto

The clouds that are between 2000m and 6000m are medium height are include:

Also at this level are Nimbostratus which are rain bearing layered clouds.

Low level clouds

These clouds are below 2000m and include:.

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