There are many different types of clouds. Each forms under specific conditions. By knowing the conditions which led to the cloud formations seen in the sky it is possible to determine the atmospheric conditions at this time and use this to predict future weather.
There are three main types of clouds: cirrus, stratus and cumulus.
Cirrus (“tuft of hair” in Latin) clouds form at high altitudes and are composed of ice crystals. They are sometimes called “mare’s tails” because of their whispy appearance.
Cumulus (“heap or pile” in Latin) form at low to mid altitudes and are large and puffy clouds.
This type of cloud usually has a flat base and a puffy top which can grow very high into the sky. These main types of clouds can also be mixed with the further classifications: cirro- (above 20 000ft); alto- (between 6 and 20 000 ft); nimbo- (produces rain).
Stratus clouds are relatively uniform greyish clouds that generally cover the entire sky. The stratus clouds form in the lowest part of the atmosphere, generally below 2000 meters and often only a few hundred meters above the ground. Sometimes the stratus clouds reach down to the ground, particularly on hilltops or in mountains. Stratus clouds at the ground are called fog.
Usually, stratus clouds do not produce any precipitation and if they do it is generally in the form of drizzle, light rain or light snow.