Stratus clouds

  • Height of base: 0 - 1,200 ft
  • Shape: layered
  • Latin: stratus - flattened or spread out
  • Precipitation: light

What are stratus clouds?

Stratus clouds are low-level layers with a fairly uniform grey or white colour. Often the scene of dull, overcast days in its 'nebulosus' form, they can persist for long periods of time. They are the lowest-lying cloud type and sometimes appear at the surface in the form of mist or fog.

How do stratus clouds form?

Stratus clouds form in calm, stable conditions when gentle breezes raise cool, moist air over colder land or ocean surfaces. These clouds can exist in a variety of thicknesses and are sometimes opaque enough to darken days, allowing for little light to pass through.

What weather is associated with stratus clouds?

Stratus is usually accompanied by little to no rainfall but if it is thick enough, it can produce light drizzle. This drizzle can also fall in the form of light snow if cold enough.

How do we categorise stratus clouds?

Due to the nature of stratus it only has two defined species:

  • Stratus nebulosus - a featureless, dark layer which is capable of producing drizzle.
  • Stratus fractus - a stratus layer which is starting to break up or 'dissipate,' leading to breaks in the cloud.