Cirrus Vertebratus

Above: Cirrus Vertebratus

Cirrus Vertebratus

Cirrus clouds often bring into being numerous optical effects when they are hit by direct sunlight. An example of such effects is the" glories." This is a set of faintly colored and concentric glowing rings that appear surrounding the shadow of the person observing them. Apart from this, they also produce rainbows and halos around the sun and when they form rainbows, the phenomenon is technically referred to as circum-horizontal arc or a fire rainbow.

Cirrus clouds are the highest clouds there is. High level clouds reside in the highest reaches of the troposphere and their base is often more than 16 000 feet above the earth’s surface. Each high altitude cloud has some distinguishing features that an observer can be able to identify. Cirrus clouds come in varied identifying and distinct sub-forms; a good example of cirrus sub-forms is the cirrus vertebratus.

What are cirrus vertebratus?

These are a sub-type of cirrus clouds and which are arranged in a manner indicative of ribs, vertebrae or a fish skeleton. Actually, the name is derived from the Latin name vertebratus which means articulated or vertebrate and there is no other cloud genus that forms this type of a shape.

What height are cirrus vertebratus found?

Just like other high altitude clouds, cirrus vertebratus are located high up in the troposphere, at heights of more than 16 000 feet above the earth’s surface. Because of their great height from the earth’s surface, you can’t see them gliding through the skies as you often see other middle and low lying clouds doing. However, they are much faster as compared to other clouds. This is due to various reasons; for instance the strong winds blowing high up in the skies therefore do not get surprised when you hear that they move past 150 miles in the troposphere.

How are cirrus vertebratus clouds formed?

They are formed by air moving parallel to the main cloud line.  The gaps in between them happen when the air is descending, while the “ribs” corresponds with the areas of the air uplift. Apart from this, these clouds can also be man-made, for instance the streaks found in the sky after a high altitude airplane passes through the skies.  Normally, the engines exhaust releases vapor while at these heights, this vapor quickly turns into ice crystals and while the crystals are descending, strong winds blow them around causing them to assume various shapes and appearance, one them being the fish’s skeleton.

Where can I see cirrus vertebratus clouds?

Cirrus vertebratus are not snow or rain clouds. However, they are early warning signs that the weather is about to change. They are found everywhere, meaning they are a worldwide phenomenon. Their presence is often preceded by significant weather changes. As such, they are a reliable indicator of weather changes.

Features of cirrus vertebratus clouds

  • Assume a vertebrate, ribs or fish skeleton appearance
  • High altitude clouds (forms above 16 000 feet above the ground).
  • Can be manmade( airplane’s engine exhaust matter)
  • Not rain or snow clouds thus normally occur during fair weather.
  • They can reliably be used to predict weather changes, even by laymen.
  • Move over the skies at high speeds and that can’t be easily observed through the naked human eye due to their high altitudes.

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