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Information About Nimbostratus Clouds

Information About Nimbostratus Clouds

ScienceStruck presents to you detailed information about nimbostratus clouds, like the altitude of its formation and description of the clouds. We shall also show you some beautiful pictures of these clouds.
Mukta Badipatla
Last Updated: Jan 13, 2018
Did You Know?
The word 'nimbostratus' is derived from the Latin words 'nimbus', meaning violent rain or precipitation, and stratus' meaning layer.
Nimbostratus clouds can be defined as dark gray, middle to low level clouds. These clouds, generally, are form at 6,500 feet above ground level and extend to higher and lower altitudes. These clouds have a dark color, because they bear water, and the color of the clouds grow darker with the increase in their water content. When it comes to appearance, these clouds are formless and are often regarded as blanket of clouds. As nimbostratus clouds are formless, thick, and flat, they are not divided into any subcategories, like genus, species, or varieties.

In the middle altitude range, nimbostratus clouds are formed from altostratus clouds. These nimbostratus clouds, hence formed, during precipitation, thicken into the lower altitude.
How Do Nimbostratus Clouds Form?
  • The surface of the Earth is heated by the Sun. When air moves or blows above the heated surface of the Earth, it absorbs heat and starts to rise. This air also contains water vapor, which rises along with the air. As the air rises, its temperature drops and it starts cooling down till dew point, after which it expands.
  • Thereby, the formation of clouds take place. These clouds may carry ice crystals or water droplets, depending on the temperature they are condensed at. When condensation occurs above 32°F, the cloud will consist of water droplets, but if the condensation occurs below 32°F, then the cloud will consist of ice crystals.
  • Nimbostratus clouds, usually, occur along a warm front.
  • Altostratus clouds descend into a lower altitude to form nimbostratus clouds.
Weather Associated with Nimbostratus Clouds
The weather associated with nimbostratus clouds is medium to heavy precipitation. But when there is presence of nimbostratus virga (shaft of precipitation following the cloud), there is no precipitation at the ground level.
Other Facts
  • Whenever there is rise in temperature, and the air becomes hot and humid, there can be a combination of cumulonimbus and nimbostratus clouds in the sky.
  • The difference between cumulonimbus and nimbostratus clouds is that the former pours heavier showers than the later.
  • An accessory cloud of the nimbostratus, nimbostratus pannus, which looks like shredded or ragged layers of cloud, is formed as a result of precipitation, and is often found beneath the parent cloud.
  • Mostly, it is formed by cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds.
  • Clouds like altocumulus, altostratus, and stratocumulus are the mutatus, mother clouds, of nimbostratus.
  • Due to the fog and precipitation that occurs below these clouds, the visibility of the Sun and Moon is greatly diminished.
  • Also, due to the weather below them, it is difficult to accurately determine the base of these clouds.
Image Gallery of Nimbostratus Clouds