What are cumulus clouds?

Cumulus is a Latin word that means ‘heap’ or pile. They are the most common clouds and are mainly low-level clouds. Cumulus clouds appear as fluffy, cotton wool-like, or cauliflower-shaped. The top is usually bright white with a darker base. It is usually an indication of fair weather. Stratocumulus and cumulonimbus clouds are some of the cloud types in this group.


As the name suggests, ‘stratus’ (flattened) and ‘cumulus’ (heap), this is a low, lumpy cloud type that may line up in a row or spread out in the sky. These are low-altitude clouds with patches of white, blue, and dark grey. They may bring a bit of rain or snow but also very commonly involved with no rain at all. Stratocumulus clouds often occur near warm, cold, or occluded fronts.


‘Cumulus’ (heap) and ‘Nimbus’ (rain) will give it away that heavy rains with thunderstorms and lightning are coming. Often referred to as thunderclouds, these are massive, low, dense, thick clouds that tower up to mid and high altitudes. They are vertical clouds, commonly very dark grey. A striking feature of this cloud is the anvil shape it has at the top, caused by flattening by the tropopause.