Reading the signs: The Cirrus cloud Ci

The weather in the mountains can change so quickly. Often weather forecasts conflict against each other and nothing is for certain. In this case I always look into the sky and read the signs.


A sighting of Cirrus clouds is often a good clue for the deterioration of weather and a new front coming in. They are characterized by thin, wispy strands, giving the type its name from the latin word cirrus meaning a ringlet or curling lock of hair. The strands of cloud sometimes appear in tufts of a distinctive form referred to by the common name of “mares’ tails”. The position of these mares tails often give you the wind direction.

These amazing delicate looking clouds generally appear white or light gray in colour and form in the high atmosphere at altitudes above 5000m. The amazing thing is that they can form on other planets, including Mars,Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, and possibly Neptune. They have even been seen on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Just beautiful.

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