Weather Whys from Texas A&M

Q: Do cumulus clouds mean good weather or bad weather is coming?
A:  Cumulus clouds are the puffy white clouds that look like big patches of cotton in the sky, explains Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University.  “The word cumulus comes from a Latin word meaning ‘heap or pile,’ which is fitting because of their puffy appearance,” McRoberts adds.  “They are formed when warm, moist air is thrust upward. Cumulus clouds are often low in the sky and when you see them, it’s usually a sign of fair weather ahead.”
Q:  How do cumulus clouds differ from cirrus clouds?
A:  Cirrus clouds have a light, feathery appearance, McRoberts says.  “They look like a long feather with a curl or two at the tip,” he notes.  “They almost have a transparent appearance.  They, too, come from a Latin word. Cirrus means ‘curl of hair.’   Like cumulus clouds, cirrus clouds usually indicate fair weather or a stable weather pattern of sunshine and little chance of rain.  Cirrus are the most common type of clouds and are found at about 15,000 feet or so and are usually composed of ice crystals.”