6 Really Interesting Types Of Cloud Formations That Have Quite Amusing Names

Cirrus spissatus, cirrocumulus floccus, cirrostratus fibratus... the UK's favourite meteorological phenomenon has a tendency to come over a bit Harry Potter sometimes. Here are six examples that buck the trend.
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1. Mammatus clouds


Via A Boy With A Blackberry

Mammatus clouds are named after the Latin for breasts - presumably because some teenage meteorologist looked up one day and thought “BOOBS. HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF BOOBS”. Other classifications coined by the same scientist include mammatus Lego, mammatus bubble wrap and mammatus acne.

2. Mackerel clouds

Mackerel clouds

Bill Atherton via Walking on Clover

Some people say the ridge-like structure of mackerel clouds resemble fishscales, but there’s a whole other group of people who say that this kind of formation looks like buttermilk. I’m going to come right out and say it: mackerel clouds look more like clouds than anything else and anyone who says differently is on crack.

3. Lenticular clouds

Lenticular clouds

NCAR/UCAR via Wired

“What-ho. Tenzing?” - “Yes, Mr Hillary?” - “Tenzing, is that a gigantic LENTIL hovering over the summit?” - “No, Mr Hillary. As we discussed yesterday, that is a cloud formation common to mountains like Everest.” - “Oh, right. Is it time for my Mars Bar yet?” - “No, Mr Hillary. Afternoon tea was just a few minutes ago.” - “Right-oh.”

4. The Morning Glory

The Morning Glory clouds

Via Stemme

Morning glory is a phenomenon most commonly witnessed early in the morning in the Southern hemisphere. South of the equator. In southern regions. Do you get what I’m saying? IT’S LIKE THE OTHER KIND OF MORNING GLORY.

5. Hole punch clouds

Hole punch clouds

via Wikipedia

Finally, a cloud name that does what it says on the tin - although a possible alternative could have been “What Happens When God Drops A Plate” cloud.

6. Kelvin Helmholtz clouds

Kelvin Helmholtz clouds

NCAR/UCAR via Wired

Some names that have a certain, ineffable romance: Anna Karenina, Elizabeth Bennet, Daniel Day Lewis, Alfred Lord Tennyson... Kelvin Helmholtz is not one of these names, but his is a sort of wavy cloud, and with this knowledge you may one day impress someone.