Cirrus clouds - thin and wispy clouds
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Cirrus clouds

Cirrus clouds
Cirrus clouds

April 2016 - Most of the time, you see cirrus clouds very high up in the sky, looking thin and wispy, like someone pulled a bigger cloud apart into little bits of cloud. Cirrus (SIR-russ) clouds look thin because they are made of ice crystals, not water drops. They form where it is high enough to be cold and freeze the water drops into ice.

thin white streaks across a blue background
More cirrus clouds

Sometimes you might think you see cirrus clouds when it's really only the trail of an airplane, half blown away and spreading across the sky. But either way, if the sky is blue with only these thin cirrus clouds high up in it, you can be pretty sure it's going to be a nice day.

Learn by doing: go outside and try to identify the different clouds you see
More about clouds

Bibliography and further reading about the atmosphere:

Learn by Doing - Clouds
More about clouds
More about Thunderstorms
More about Weather
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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