Category Archives: Stratocumulus

Summer snowpack under stratocumulus clouds


Brian Boyd
Location: Ruby Mountains, NV
Date: 26 June 2014

The Ruby Mountains of Nevada extend, at the highest point, above 11,000 ft (nearly 3500 m). Signs of the winter’s¬†snowpack remain in the summer months at these high elevations, ¬†providing a nice white contrast to the darker mountain slopes, similar to the light and dark colors contrasts of the clouds above. It’s tough to tell from this picture just how deep these clouds have grown, but it’s evident they are of the cumulus variety, with well-defined flat cloud bases. These bases occur at the level of condensation, where the air rises and cools to its dewpoint temperature where saturation and (above which) condensation occurs. Their large coverage over the sky suggests these are stratocumulus clouds.

While on a flight from Seattle to Portland, we flew closely above a stratocumulus cloud deck. Upon landing in Portland, I could then look up at these patchy, lumpy clouds. Stratus means layer and cumulus means heap so it’s no surprise this name is given to the group of clouds that typically form in patches with the individual clouds low enough to the surface that they appear larger than the altocumulus clouds, but still have some vertical growth. You can clearly see these features in these above and below views!

Angela Rowe
Location: Flight to Portland, Oregon from Seattle, Washington
Date: February 2014

Stratocumulus_above_AngelaRowe_Portland_Feb2014 Stratocumulus_below_AngelaRowe_PortlandOR_Feb2014