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Cloud Characteristics, Continued - 14221_306
Cloud  Characteristics,  Continued Low-Etage Clouds Nimbostratus  (NS)  clouds  are  a  dark  gray-colored  amorphous (shapeless)  and  rainy  layer  of  cloud.  They  are  usually  nearly  uniform and  feebly  illuminated,  seemingly  from  within.  When  precipitation occurs,  it  is  in  the  form  of  continuous  rain  or  snow,  but  nimbostratus may  occur  without  rain  or  snow.  Often  there  is  precipitation  that  does not  reach  the  ground,  in  which  case,  the  base  of  the  cloud  may  extend into  the  low-cloud  family. Stratocumulus  (SC)  clouds  are  layer  or  patches  of  clouds  composed  of globular  masses  or  rolls.  The  smallest  of  the  regularly  arranged elements  are  fairly  large.  They  are  soft  and  gray  with  dark  spots. Stratus  (ST)  clouds  are  a  low,  uniform  layer  of  clouds,  resembling  fog, but  not  resting  on  the  ground.  A  veil  of  stratus  gives  the  sky  a  hazy appearance.  Usually,  only  drizzle  is  associated  with  stratus.  When  there is  no  precipitation,  the  stratus  cloud  form  appears  drier  than  other similar  forms,  and  it  shows  some  contrasts  and  some  lighter  transparent parts. Cumulus  (CU)  clouds  are  dense  clouds  with  vertical  development. Their  upper  surfaces  are  dome-shaped  and  exhibit  rounded  projections, and  their  bases  are  nearly  horizontal.  Stratocumulus  clouds  resemble ragged  cumulus  clouds  in  which  the  different  parts  show  constant change.  Strong  updrafts  exist  under  and  within  larger  cumulus formations.  In  fact,  cumulus  clouds,  like  other  forms  of  vertically developed  clouds,  are  caused  by  updrafts. Cumulonimbus  (CB)  clouds  are  heavy  masses  of  cloud,  with  towering vertical  development,  whose  cumuliform  summits  resemble  mountains  or towers.  Their  upper  parts  leave  a  fibrous  texture,  and  often  they  spread out  in  the  shape  of  an  anvil. Cumulonimbus  clouds  are  generally  associated  with  showers  of  rain  or snow,  and  sometimes  produce  hail.  Thunderstorms  are  always associated  with  cumulonimbus.  The  bases  of  the  cumulonimbus  may  be anywhere  from  1,600  feet  to  6,500  feet.  Although  you  would  rarely  see all  types  at  any  one  time  in  nature,  quite  frequently  you  may  observe two  or  three  layers  of  clouds  of  different  types  at  one  observation. 10-9

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