What Are Clouds Made Of?

Clouds are collections of water droplets or tiny crystals of ice floating in the air high above ground level. They form when warm air containing moisture moves up into the sky and begins to cool.

Clouds are not all alike. Some are fluffy and white, while others form gray or black coverings over the earth. Clouds float at different heights, have different temperatures, and are made up of varying amounts of water, dust, and ice.

Weather experts, or meteorologists, have named clouds according to their appearance.

Stratus clouds, from the Latin word stratum (sheetlike or layerlike), appear as layers or sheets above the earth.

Cumulus clouds, from the Latin cummulus (pile or heap), are fluffy piles or heaps of clouds.

Cirrus clouds, from the Latin cirrus (curl), are curly white clouds.

Nimbus clouds, from the Latin nimbus (rainstorm), are gray rain clouds.

Cumulonimbus clouds, a combination of cumulus and nimbus clouds, have often reached 60,000 feet in height!