For those of you who enjoyed, were enlightened by, or read part of my previous blog How It Rains
, I appreciate your dedicating a portion of your e-time to understanding this taken-for-granted atmospheric phenomenon. Sure, the Northern Lights are a much more spectacular-looking phenomenon, but I am not interested in sky bling right now. Drab, gray rain clouds are mind-bending enough.
After I posted "How it Rains," I had quite a bit of clean up to do. I had markers, oil pastels, scraps of paper, pens, pencils, and other crafty things spread out all over my desk. I also had the remnants of the sponge I sacrificed in the name of science (above). The scraps (below) were too small to put to use in the kitchen, but I felt wasteful tossing them in the trash.
So I decided to recycle them into my blog as an example of another cloud feature you should know about-- fractus. Fractus, as you can probably deduce, is from the same root as "fraction," meaning "part of." Cumulus fractus, therefore, are parts of cumulus clouds. Stratus fractus, parts of stratus clouds. These are the patches, misty bits, ragged edges, deteriorated fractions of larger clouds. You will see them floating by on their own or beneath a larger cloud mass. The free-floating ones are cumulus fractus and are often white.
|The shreddy bits of white cloud are cumulus fractus.|
Unless the light is fading and they appear pink (below).
| Cumulus fractus in upper half of photo. Photograph by M. Ruth|
Or gray after the sun has set (below).
| Gray Cumulus fractus just above trees. Photo by M. Ruth|
You might also see stratus fractus; these are gray.
If you see very dark gray stratus fractus beneath a nimbostratus cloud, they are called pannus (below).