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Mid-Level Clouds Are "Alto" Clouds

Clouds with the prefix "alto" are middle level clouds that have bases between 2000 and 7000 m (6500 to 23,000 ft.).


Altostratus clouds are gray or blue-gray middle level clouds composed of ice crystals and water droplets. These clouds usually cover the entire sky. In the thinner areas of the cloud, the sun may be dimly visible as a round disk. Altostratus clouds often form ahead of storms that will produce continuous precipitation.

(Left: UCAR, Right: C.Calvin)


Altocumulus clouds are middle level clouds that are made of water droplets and appear as gray, puffy masses, sometimes rolled out in parallel waves or bands. The appearance of these clouds on a warm, humid summer morning often means thunderstorms may occur by late afternoon.

(Left: UCAR, Right: P.Lemone)


Do you know how clouds form?