The Stratus cloud is known for its dark gloomy look, as it appears to be layered across the sky. It is usually dark in nature because light from the sun is being transmitted through the cloud that collides with many water droplets. The light is then scattered from our viewing, which makes the cloud appear dark. The common Stratus cloud can be associated with light rain, but more in a mist/drizzle form. It is generally a low level cloud that has the base of the cloud from the surface up to 1,200 feet. As usual, these clouds can be seen at different altitudes as well. When a Stratus cloud is spotted, usually it means that the atmosphere is stable enough to not produce Cumulonimbus clouds, but still relatively unstable for precipitation.
There can be different classifications for the Stratus base clouds. Some that are commonly seen are Nimbostratus, Stratocumulus, Altostratus, and Cirrostratus. With Nimbostratus clouds, there is usually more moisture within the low level cloud. If there is enough moisture, the collision and coalescence process will intensify. An increase in this process can make it more likely to have rainfall. Another low level classification is the Stratocumulus. Discussed in the previous article “Courtney’s Cloud Corner: Cumulus Clouds”, Cumulus clouds appear “puffy”. So, in a Stratocumulus, the cloud is spread across the sky with the light “puffy” appearance. These clouds can also be confused with Altostratus as they both have the “puffy” appearance. Although Altostratus clouds are thicker and are found at higher altitudes for they are mid- level clouds. Finally, the Cirrostratus clouds the highest level of the stratus clouds. They are still in a layered form, but with higher altitude.