Rare Clouds

1. Nacreous Clouds
These rare clouds, sometimes called mother-of-pearl clouds, are 15 - 25km (9 -16 miles) high in the stratosphere and well above tropospheric clouds.

nacreous - rare clouds

They have iridescent colors but are higher and much rarer than ordinary iridescent clouds. They are seen mostly but not exclusively in polar regions and in winter at high latitudes, Scandinavia, Alaska, Northern Canada. Lower level iridescent clouds can be seen anywhere.

nacreous1 - rare clouds

nacreous3 - rare clouds

Nacreous clouds shine brightly in high altitude sunlight up to two hours after ground level sunset or before dawn. Their unbelievably bright iridescent colors and slow movement relative to any lower clouds make them an unmistakable and unforgettable sight.

Nacreous Clouds 1

Nacreous Clouds 2

Nacreous Clouds 3

2. Mammatus Clouds
Mammatus are pouch-like cloud structures and a rare example of clouds in sinking air.

mammatus - rare clouds

mammatus2 - rare clouds

mammatus cloud

mammatush - rare clouds

Sometimes very ominous in appearance, mammatus clouds are harmless and do not mean that a tornado is about to form - a commonly held misconception. In fact, mammatus are usually seen after the worst of a thunderstorm has passed.

3. Altocumulus Castelanus
Also known as jellyfish clouds due to their jellyfish-like appearance

Altocumulus Castelanus

These formed around 17,000 ft due to when the rush of moist air comes from the Gulf Stream and gets trapped between layers of dry air. The top of the cloud rises into a jellyfish shape and long tentacles known as “trailing virga” form from rain drops that have evaporated.

4. Noctilucent Clouds
Noctilucent Clouds or Polar Mesopheric Clouds: This is an extraordinarily rare cloud formation that occurs out on the verge of space between 82km to 102 km from the earth’s surface.

noc clouds

Noctilucent Clouds

Noctilucent clouds appear to be luminous yet they reflect the sunlight from the other side of the earth at night, giving them a glowing appearance

Noctilucent Clouds 2

Noctilucent Clouds 3

Noctilucent Clouds 1

5. Cirrus Kelvin-Helmholtz
Appearing as a slender, horizontal spiral of cloud, cirrus Kelvin-Helmholtz is one of the most distinctive cloud formations. However, it tends to dissipate only a minute or two after forming and, as a result, is rarely observed.

Cirrus Kelvin Helmholtz

Average height is around 16,500 ft.

Cirrus Kelvin Helmholtz

6. Lenticular Clouds
Lenticular clouds, technically known as altocumulus standing lenticularis, are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes, normally aligned at right-angles to the wind direction.

lenticular - rare clouds

Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. Lenticular clouds sometimes form at the crests of these waves. Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form, creating a formation known as a wave cloud.

Lenticular Clouds 1

Lenticular Clouds 3

lenticular clouds

lenticular clouds2

lenticulard - rare clouds

7. Roll Clouds
A roll cloud is a low, horizontal tube-shaped arcus cloud associated with a thunderstorm gust front, or sometimes a cold front. Roll clouds can also be a sign of possible microburst activity.

aoll cloud

Cool air sinking air from a storm cloud’s downdraft spreads out across the surface with the leading edge called a gust front. This outflow undercuts warm air being drawn into the storm’s updraft. As the cool air lifts the warm moist air water condenses creating cloud, which often rolls with the different winds above and below (wind shear).

aoll cloud1

aoll cloud2

aoll cloud4

aoll cloud3

aoll cloud5

8. Shelf Clouds
A shelf cloud is a low, horizontal wedge-shaped arcus cloud, associated with a thunderstorm gust front (or occasionally with a cold front, even in the absence of thunderstorms).

ahelf cloud

Unlike a roll cloud, a shelf cloud is attached to the base of the parent cloud above it (usually a thunderstorm).

ahelf cloud1

Ahelf cloud3

ahelf cloud4

Rising cloud motion often can be seen in the leading (outer) part of the shelf cloud, while the underside often appears turbulent, boiling, and wind-torn.

9. Stratocumulus Clouds
According to the Sapporo Meteorological Observatory, these low-altitude stratocumulus clouds were rolled into long, distinctive ribbons after becoming trapped in air currents.

aratocumulus Cloud

While it is not uncommon for wind to form such patterns in stratocumulus clouds, photos that clearly show the clouds rolled into strips are rare, says the observatory.

You might be interested


  • 2

    tripping! +3

    • Kakuzu
    • January 12, 2009, 12:56 pm
  • 2

    umm when u live in kansas or anywhere in tornado alley those last 9 cept for the very last r a very good sign that a tornado is likely so beatiful...yes...dangerous....yes...wierd.....all yes ive seen hundreds of these n my life

  • 2

    I live in Oklahoma and i see shelf clouds all the time, but i have only seen a rolling cloud once. +3

  • 2

    This is absolutely awesome. A big +3.

    • kiro
    • April 24, 2009, 2:49 am
  • 1

    These are beautiful!

    • shacow
    • January 13, 2009, 5:47 am
  • 1

    true that, wish i could see them some day =]

  • 1

    madd kooolllllzz

    • dre352
    • January 14, 2009, 10:21 am
  • 1

    nice dood these r cool =D

  • 1

    mhm should get more though...

  • 1

    nice man

  • 1

    wicked stuff right here.. love clouds

    • stef
    • January 31, 2009, 4:02 pm
  • 1

    wow i would love to see some of those in real life

    • Flaraen
    • February 25, 2009, 11:35 am
  • 1

    Lenticular Clouds look almost like alien ships

    - briannamoran35 November 29, 2012, 6:37 pm
  • 1

    Way kool Thanks maN!

  • 1


  • 1

    WICKED lol

    • alex123
    • September 16, 2009, 6:41 am
  • 1

    Wish I could give you more than 3 for this.

  • 1

    awesome pics! +3

  • 1

    I've seen 5. whilst sailing and 6. whilst snowboarding... so cool

  • 1


    • aodh291
    • October 23, 2009, 4:26 pm
    No it isint it is a cloud called mamma and it usually tells you that there is going to be a tornado
    - briannamoran35 November 29, 2012, 6:38 pm
  • 1

    Those are so awesome

    • wertz3
    • October 23, 2009, 5:11 pm
  • 1

    Is there a dude surfing on aoll-cloud3

    • dav123
    • October 29, 2009, 4:23 am
  • 1


  • 1

    incredible Mammatus clouds look great

  • 1

    According to Copyscape, this page was stolen from http://www.collthings.co.uk/2008/06/10-very-rare-clouds.html

  • 1

    i would love to see the roll clouds in person

  • 1

    ive seen one or two of those in rl, but didnt think nothin of it. all of those look awesome. +3

    • gwa2003
    • January 13, 2010, 12:38 pm
  • 1

    Am I not allowed to post something that I like if its not from my very own mind? At the time that I posted this, no one cared about sources and it seems that you are the only one that does now.

  • 1

    That would be a bird.

  • 0


    • TonyG
    • January 14, 2009, 3:53 pm
  • 0

    im thining the big long ones are super alien

  • 0

    Woah, these are cool.

    • fellage
    • October 10, 2009, 12:36 am
  • 0

    • dav123
    • October 29, 2009, 4:21 am
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