Cool clouds but what are their names?

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Here are a few basic clouds types to learn so people will think you are smart. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Here are a few basic clouds types to learn so people will think you are smart. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Cool clouds but do they have a name?

Picture this, you are looking at the sky and notice a neat cloud pattern. You say, '"hey, that's a cool looking cloud." Usually, that's pretty much the end of the story.

But what if you could name it and impress your friends? Instant legend.

Here are a few basic clouds types to learn so people will think you are smart.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Weather blog]

Cirrus clouds

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These are high, thin clouds often described as "wispy."

They are made of ice crystals and sit very high in the atmosphere. They are not storm or rain clouds, so if you see these, don't worry about getting wet anytime soon.

Stratus clouds

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If you see these clouds it can mean a day possibly filled with some rain or snow.

These clouds are dark, diffuse and often lead to a gloomy day with more cloud cover than sunshine. Sometimes stratus clouds can take on a blue or gray color.

There are a couple of types of stratus clouds depending how high or low they are in the atmosphere.

Cumulus clouds

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I call these the "Simpsons" clouds. Remember the puffy and fluffy clouds on the opening scene of that cartoon? Those are cumulus clouds.

They are generally thicker clouds with distinct outlines. Part of this cloud tends to be very bright and white, while the other areas are bit grayer, due to the sunlight.

Cumulonimbus clouds

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When you see this cloud, it's time to get inside. This is better knows as a thundercloud.

We see these a lot during the monsoon after the summer sun heats the ground. Cumulus clouds grow and grow until they achieve cumulonimbus status.

The tops of these clouds are fibrous, thick and white. The bottom is gray, messy and often throwing down rain or hail.

So there you go! Cloud 101. Now just sit back and watch your friends in awe.

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Ian SchwartzAn Arizona native, born and raised in Mesa, and graduate of Arizona State University, Ian Schwartz is thrilled to be back in the Valley of the Sun.

Click to learn more about Ian.

Ian Schwartz
Wake Up Meteorologist

After starting his journalism career in Illinois, Ian worked in Albuquerque and later Sacramento. In the field as a reporter, he has covered flash floods, blizzards, tornadoes, wildfires, drought and just about everything the weather can offer. After spending some time reporting, Ian decided to further his education and completed Mississippi State's broadcast meteorology program. Ian loves everything about Arizona weather from winter storms in the north to the monsoon in the south. When Ian isn't giving you the forecast in the morning, you can find him hiking, traveling and exploring everything our great state has to offer. If you have any weather pictures or want to say hi, drop him an email or connect online.

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