First time in 30 years, new clouds are named - WNEM TV 5

First Warn 5

First time in 30 years, new clouds are named

Posted: Updated:
Fluctus (Kelvin-Helmholtz) clouds. Photo by Mrs. June Gronseth, provided through WMO. Fluctus (Kelvin-Helmholtz) clouds. Photo by Mrs. June Gronseth, provided through WMO.
(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Puffy. Scary. Calm. Unusual. All of these are terms used to describe clouds that you may see in your daily life, but they also have official names. Now, for the first time in 30 years, we have some new officially defined cloud types. Feel free to impress your friends with this new knowledge! 

Who Gets To Classify Clouds:

Cloud types are officially recognized by the WMO, the World Meteorological Organization. This organization is part of the United Nations and exists to promote the exchange of meteorological information and standards between UN member nations. One of these standards is cloud classification, recorded in a publication called the International Cloud Atlas. The WMO calls it, "the global reference for observing and identifying clouds" and late last month they added some new members to this guide.

What Clouds Were Added?

Below are the 12 new cloud classifications that were added to the WMO's International Cloud Atlas.


This cloud has been commonly called a "roll" cloud. It usually takes on a long and tubular shape. 


These clouds inspire awe in almost everyone that gets to see them. They have been most commonly referred to as "wavy clouds" but no singular term existed in the common lexicon to refer to these types of clouds. 


These clouds were referred to as waves, ocean waves, or in the weather world "Kelvin-Helmholtz" clouds. In terms of waves, it doesn't get much more obvious than this. 


This cloud formation has been called a "Hole Punch" Cloud. No explanation needed here! These clouds form as a direct result of interaction with aircraft passing through them.


This is a type of cloud formation associated with a severe thunderstorm. Typically called a "wall cloud," these formations can be the precursor to a tornado.

Cauda & Flumen:

The Cauda cloud, called a "tail cloud" will trail out from a supercell thunderstorm. These will usually be attached to the wall cloud. (Lower tail in the bottom right of the photo.)

The Flumen is a broader, flatter, and higher based cloud also associated with a severe supercell thunderstorm. This cloud is not attached to the wall cloud.


Not to be confused with a smoke plume, these clouds are formed by the intense heat rising out of a forest fire, wildfire, or volcanic eruption. It can be seen here as the white puffy clouds rising high above the smoke plume.


This is the general classification to refer to clouds that were created by human activity. This can include contrails from aircraft, clouds from smoke stacks and cooling towers, or clouds from anything else that is human caused and creates a heat source strong enough to cause enough air to rise and form into clouds. 


Contrails that persist over time and spread out into a thin sheet of cirrus clouds also now have a new name. These clouds are pictured below. 


This is the new name for something that you may never have considered to be a cloud. The rising mist or spray from a waterfall that forms a cloud like plume is now officially recognized as its own type of cloud.


Finally, the sporadic clouds that develop over a forest due to the increased humidity have also been given their own name. These clouds form due to the evaporation and evapotranspiration of the tree canopy below. 

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Images in this article from the WMO International Cloud Atlas website.

Powered by Frankly
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, WNEM; Saginaw, MI. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.