Cumulus Fractus

Above: Cumulus Fractus

Cumulus Fractus

Fractus clouds are actually a type of cloud in their own right. Identifiable because they look ragged, they are usually bits and pieces that have formed or been broken off from a larger cloud base. They break off as a consequence of the strong winds that may be present and therefore form irregular patterns. Cumulus fractus clouds therefore are a form of cumulus clouds.

What height are cumulus fractus clouds found?

Cumulus fractus clouds are formed at between 8,000 to 20,000 feet. There is no fixed range or height for the development of these clouds as it is very dependent on the levels of humidity that are present in the air. The higher the levels of humidity, the higher the formation of cumulus clouds and cumulus fractus clouds. If however the humidity levels are low lying, then the cumulus fractus clouds will form at a lower height.

Classification of cumulus fractus clouds

In classifying fractus clouds, there are basically two forms :

  • the cumulus fractus which usually comes about when warm air from the ground rises to meet the cooler air from the sky.


  • the stratus fractus tend to be smaller and there is greater particle dispersion from within the cloud.

How are cumulus fractus clouds formed?

Cumulus fractus clouds form part of the cumulus family. They are derived from a breaking up of cumulus clouds that would normally have been created when the warm air from the earth rises up to meet the cooler airs including water and ice crystals in the sky. This process starts convection and creates cumulus clouds.

Most commonly however cumulus fractus clouds are formed during the summer when the ground air is warmer and more humid. Humidity has a big factor to play in the formation of cumulus clouds and ultimately, in the formation of cumulus fractus clouds as well. Basically cumulus fractus clouds are cloud bits that are broken off from a main cumulus cloud formation and freely float in the sky separate from the main formation. It is the strong winds that cause this dissipation of the cloud formation and results in the creation of cumulus fractus clouds.

What do cumulus fractus clouds look like?

Looking like bits of torn cotton candy, cumulus fractus clouds are usually not a solid collection or formation of clouds but look like individual clumps that have broken off from a main cloud formation. Because of this there is no consistent shape and size for the cumulus fractus clouds.

How common are cumulus fractus clouds?

Cumulus fractus clouds are most common when there is warm air at ground level. During such times there is a greater frequency of cumulus fractus cloud observation and this can occur at any time in the day although it is rarest in the morning.

Where can I see cumulus fractus clouds?

It is likely to be observed more frequently in the summer months or in countries that enjoy tropical weather. Also these cumulus fractus clouds are best observed in the late morning or late evening and provided that there are strong winds blowing in the stratosphere.

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