Cirrus Intortus

Above: Cirrus Intortus

Cirrus Intortus

As a rule, cirrus clouds do not produce rain, and if precipitation manages to reach the earth's atmosphere, it does so in a few droplets that stops as soon as they get started. On days that have thunderstorm activities, the dissipating thunderstorm continues to produce precipitation even through thick cirrus intortus clouds. When this happens, precipitation consists of medium to large droplets that gradually decreases. Basically the precipitation area may occur from the rear of the cloud, producing the appearance of rainbows and lowering of the sun toward the horizon.

For starters, there are various sub-types of cirrus clouds and are mostly classified according to their shape and appearance. Such cirrus sub-category clouds that are classified according to their appearance include cirrus intortus clouds.

What are cirrus intortus clouds?

These are the types of clouds that have filaments that seem to become entangled, thereby creating a zigzag or a curved or a twisted pattern and this variety of clouds is only limited to cirrus clouds. Like all other cirrus clouds they are high altitude clouds and rarely produce any precipitation, if they do so it rarely reaches the earth’s surface due to the distances involved.

What height are cirrus intortus clouds found?

These are high altitude clouds, and can only be found 16 000 feet above the earth’s surface. Note that these clouds indicate the presence of moisture at high altitudes.

How are cirrus intortus clouds formed?

Cirrus intortus clouds are made up of millions of tiny ice crystals as opposed to water droplets. This is because at the altitudes they are formed, the moisture is usually frozen as a result of the cold temperatures up there.  Normally, upper level winds blow these ice crystals here and there, thereby producing their characteristic white streaks that are often irregularly shaped or have a rugged appearance.

Depending on the speed of the wind and the subsequent distribution of the moisture, these clouds may form in isolated patches or over a wide area of the skies. Isolated patches of cirrus intortus have no significance but if they are wide spread, they more or less indicate the approach of bad weather.
Cirrus intortus clouds are produced by the lifting of stable air. How? As weather front approaches, the air rises and varied types of clouds form in a sequence, increasingly condensing the moisture. Basically, these types of clouds are usually the last to form. As such, cirrus intortus represent pretty much the last available water vapor, earning the term of fair weather clouds by many. Above these clouds, the air is extremely dry.

How common are cirrus intortus clouds?

Depending on the conditions, these clouds are quite common. However, for their formation, the conditions have to be right. The wind’s speed is also a greater determinant when it comes to the formation of these clouds.

Characteristics of cirrus intortus clouds

  • Have interlaced or tangled appearance
  • Forms above 16 000 feet above the ground.
  • They are not precipitation type of clouds
  • They can occur in any part of the world as long as the formation conditions are right.
  • They act as the first indicator of the coming weather conditions.

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