Pressure and Cloud Type
Name: Sam H.
Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Does the barometric pressure effect the cloud type?
An interesting question. I think not. The main factor affecting the
cloud type is the stability of the air... which is a function of
temperature and humidity. Warm humid air is less stable and is more
likely to develop cumuloform clouds.
The only relationship I sense to barometric pressure is that areas of
high pressure are more association with stable air... lows with unstable
Thinking a step further, areas of high pressure generally have clear
skies that allow the sun to heat the surface of the earth that in turn
heats the air making it less stable. These heated areas create
Interesting question. I will be interested in seeing how others answer
this question... but for now I stick with my first thought.... I think
barometric pressure does not directly affect cloud type.
Barometric pressure usually does not have any determination on the type of
clouds present. The cloud types are a factor of the amount of moisture
present at a given altitude, and whether the air is being "lifted" or is
subsiding... ...subsiding air in a layer usually indicates clouds
dissipating...and air converging, or being lifted, usually indicates cloud
Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St Louis, MO
The barometric pressure doesn't directly affect cloud type.
However, certain cloud types are more common during certain
atmospheric pressure conditions, because of the dynamics
involved in those weather systems. For instance, in low pressure
areas you are more likely to get stratus clouds and embedded
cumulonimbus. In high pressure systems you get "fair weather"
cumulus, cirrus (especially from jet contrails), altocumulus
(especially ahead of thunderstorms), cumulus congestus
(tall cumulus), isolated cumulonimbus, and cumulonimbus
embedded in squall lines in from of a cold front.
David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory
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Update: June 2012