Cumulus Clouds

Cumulus clouds begin as smaller, individual cotton ball shapes which are formed by daytime heating of the earth’s surface. The Latin meaning ‘accumulation’ or ‘pile’ suggests the formation of this cloud type builds over time. Cumulus clouds grow vertically in height and have the widest range of shapes, sizes, and precipitation of all cloud types, generally increasing in height throughout the afternoon during the sun’s peak heat. On a more stable day, they often do not produce precipitation and can be seen as passing clouds on an otherwise sunny day. On particularly unstable days, these can build into passing showers (rain or snow) or even massive, towering Cumulonimbus clouds capable of thunder and lightning, hail, and tornadoes.