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World Meteorological Organization Adds New Cloud Names to Atlas

by Daphne Thompson, on Mar 23, 2017 2:55:40 PM

March 23 is World Meteorology Day with a theme focusing on the importance of clouds. Whether it is forecasting or learning more about climate change, clouds are extremely useful in understanding what is going on. This year, the World Meteorological Organization has added some new cloud names to their official atlas.

WMO- Understanding Clouds from Jack Miller on Vimeo

How can anyone not find clouds interesting after viewing the time-lapse video shown above? Clouds are shown in art, many take photos of them, and they make sunsets even more colorful. Whether you just call them puffy white clouds or cumulus, they affect our lives.

For many who chase, serve as storm spotters, or are weather enthusiasts, there are unofficial names for some clouds. For instance, a beaver tail is what many call the tail cloud near a lowering of a thunderstorm. If you have ever seen a cloud develop over a large fire, we call them pyrocumulus. Now, there are new technical names for some of these cloud types. 


Cauda -Tail Cloud (credit: Steve Willington)© Steve Willington

Commonly called a "tail cloud" or "beaver tail", this horizontal cloud extending from the precipitation area of a supercell is now classified as Cauda.


Flammagenitus- Pyrocumulus (credit: Jan Knight)

© Jan Knight

If you have ever seen this, you know that there is usually a pretty large fire under it. What used to be unofficially called a pyrocumulus, this convection initiated by a forest fire or wildfire is now catagorized as a Flammagenitus.


Murus -Wall Cloud (credit: Eric Van Lochem)© Eric Van Lochem

What we all know as a "wall cloud", this feature is the lowering of a cloud base from a thunderstorm from which tornadoes can form is now called Murus.

Take a look at the full cloud atlas and remember, if you need help forecasting the weather we are here for you.

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