Clouds are made of water drops or ice crystals. Scientists identify different cloud types by the way they look, the weather they bring, and how high they are in the sky.

Types of clouds:

  • Cumulus clouds: fluffy and white with flat bottoms; indicate fair weather

  • Cumulonimbus clouds: produce thunderstorms; are made when cumulus clouds become larger and darker

  • Stratus clouds: smooth, gray clouds that cover the whole sky; associated with light rain

  • Cirrus clouds: feathery; associated with fair weather, but often indicate that rain or snow may fall within several hours


Precipitation is any form of liquid or frozen water that falls from the atmosphere to the ground. It is formed in clouds when water vapor condenses into water droplets and sometimes freezes into ice. When these droplets or ice particles get too heavy, they fall to the ground.

Types of precipitation:

  • Rain: liquid water droplets

  • Sleet: small pieces of ice often mixed with rain or snow

  • Hail: balls or pieces of ice; larger than sleet

  • Snow: ice crystals that fall in flakes

Storms and Disasters

Types of weather storms/disasters:

  • Tornado: rotating, funnel-shaped clouds that extend from thunderstorms

  • Hurricane: rotating winds that form over water; brings heavy rain and wind

  • Thunderstorm: a storm with lightning and thunder and heavy rain

    • Lightning: a bolt of electricity that stretches from the clouds to the ground

    • Thunder: a loud noise heard after lightning due to the expansion of heated air


Meteorologists, or weather scientists, use different types of instruments to help predict the weather.

Weather instruments:

  • Barometer: measures air pressure

  • Anemometer: measures wind speed

  • Rain gauge: measures the amount of precipitation

  • Thermometer: measures the temperature of the air.

High pressure system: whirling mass of cool, dry air that brings good weather and sunny skies; represented by an 'H'

Low pressure system: whirling mass of warm, moist air that brings stormy weather and wind; represented by an 'L'

Air mass: large body of air that has similar properties throughout

Front: a boundary between two different air masses, resulting in stormy weather


Sources Used and Helpful Links