Hidden threats in our temperamental airspace companions.

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Identifying clouds and also their potential threats is vital to having actually a crawl aviator’s eye and also ensuring the you don’t inadvertently encounter any hazards.

The FAA mandates yearly recurrent training because that pilots top top cloud identification and weather, so we thought we’d lay the end an easy-to-follow study overview to cloud identification in this 3-part blog series.

Today, we space talking around turbulence in relation to cloud types, you can read around thunderstorm cloud identification and icing cloud identification here.

Cloud varieties and whereby to find them.

Clouds generally are classified based on their visual characteristics such together height, shape, and behavior.

Clouds room put right into the adhering to categories: low, middle, high, or those with extensive vertical advance (aka prolong through more than one level).

Typically, you will do it encounter the following types of clouds in each level:


• High clouds: There space 3 species of high clouds: cirrostratus, cirrocumulus, and cirrus. Usually, you will certainly encounter very little turbulence in high clouds, but you have the right to expect some disturbance from a cirrocumulus cloud.

• center clouds: There are 2 varieties of high clouds: altostratus and also altocumulus. Some turbulence is supposed from altocumulus clouds, however typically little to no disturbance is competent in one altostratus cloud.

• Low clouds: There room 4 varieties of low clouds:


If you check out a stratocumulus cloud, suppose some connected turbulence.

If you check out a cumulus cloud, an initial note whether or no it has actually vertical development.

A cumulus with little vertical development method you deserve to expect part turbulence.

However, a towering cumulus cloud method you deserve to expect very solid turbulence.

Generally, pilots deserve to expect to experience some level of turbulence in relation to clouds below 20,000 ft. AGL (beneath or in ~ low/middle clouds), but over 20,000 ft.

AGL is usually really smooth since you will be in the high clouds or over the typically turbulent clouds (not considering clear air disturbance or jet stream).

Now, there is one exception to this rule: cumulonimbus clouds.* Those whipped mashed potato or stacked cotton ball-like clouds organize some the the many dangerous flying conditions known come aviators, including excessive turbulence, all wrapped up in a tiny fluffy package.

Cumulonimbus clouds display vertical advance within a variety of the common cloud levels.

* others on the perform to avoid, though seen more rarely, room the Mammatus clouds (wind shear result), Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds (severe wind shear result), and also Lenticular clouds (mountain tide activity)


Cloud-related disturbance avoidance.

As formerly mentioned, clouds above 20,000 ft AGL usually don’t hold the intuitive indication of any kind of turbulence, yet that isn’t constantly the case.

A general preeminence of ignorance is to protect against cumulus-type clouds, particularly if over there is any type of vertical building involved. Prevent cumulus clouds or in ~ the an extremely least, be ready for turbulence as soon as flying through these clouds (i.e. Close seatbelt chime, solitary chime to flight attendants come stow any kind of items, etc). When in doubt, inquiry to circumnavigate any kind of kind the cumulus cloud with ATC.

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