Stratus cloud: Like fog, but above the ground

Grey skies in Finland.
Grey skies in Finland. Photo: Foreca, Keilaniemi, Espoo, Finland.

When a cloud touches the ground, it is called fog. When it rises just above the ground, it is called a stratus cloud.

Stratus clouds are flat and featureless clouds that don’t produce much precipitation. Drizzle or very light rain may fall out of a stratus cloud.

In areas with relatively cool daytime temperatures in the winter hemisphere solar radiation is relatively weak. It is often too weak to dissipate fog that has formed during the night. As the ground heats up during the day the fog lifts off the ground, and its name changes from fog to stratus cloud. This low-hanging cloud typically has its base at the altitude of 30–900 feet.

Drizzle or light rain may fall out of stratus clouds

If the condensation of cloud droplets continues within the cloud, small rain drops may form and fall as drizzle or light rain. Light rain or freezing drizzle may fall out of a stratus cloud even if the air temperature was below freezing. Stratus clouds are usually dissipated by sunlight, wind or changes in temperature.

Article last updated 2/25/2021, 8:22:00 AM

Last visited

Your favorites