Hidden dangers in our temperamental airspace companions.

You are watching: What clouds have the greatest turbulence?

Identifying clouds and their potential risks is vital to having a crawl aviator’s eye and ensuring that you nothing inadvertently encounter any hazards.

The FAA mandates yearly recurrent training because that pilots ~ above cloud identification and weather, for this reason we assumed we’d lay out an easy-to-follow study overview to cloud identification in this 3-part blog series.

Today, we room talking around turbulence in relationship to cloud types, you deserve to read about thunderstorm cloud identification and icing cloud identification here.

Cloud varieties and wherein to discover them.

Clouds generally are classified based upon their visual characteristics such as height, shape, and also behavior.

Clouds are put into the following categories: low, middle, high, or those with considerable vertical advancement (aka prolong through more than one level).

Typically, you will do it encounter the following species of clouds in every level:


• High clouds: There room 3 species of high clouds: cirrostratus, cirrocumulus, and also cirrus. Usually, you will certainly encounter very tiny turbulence in high clouds, however you have the right to expect some turbulence from a cirrocumulus cloud.

• center clouds: There are 2 varieties of high clouds: altostratus and also altocumulus. Some turbulence is expected from altocumulus clouds, yet typically small to no disturbance is experienced in one altostratus cloud.

• Low clouds: There room 4 species of short clouds:


If you see a stratocumulus cloud, suppose some linked turbulence.

If you see a cumulus cloud, an initial note whether or no it has actually vertical development.

A cumulus with small vertical development way you can expect some turbulence.

However, a towering cumulus cloud way you have the right to expect very solid turbulence.

Generally, pilots can expect to suffer some level of turbulence in relation to clouds below 20,000 ft. AGL (beneath or within low/middle clouds), but over 20,000 ft.

AGL is usually really smooth because you will be in the high clouds or over the typically turbulent clouds (not considering clear air disturbance or jet stream).

Now, over there is one exception to this rule: cumulonimbus clouds.* Those whipped mashed potato or stacked noodle ball-like clouds organize some the the most dangerous flying problems known come aviators, including too much turbulence, every wrapped increase in a little fluffy package.

Cumulonimbus clouds show vertical advancement within a selection of the typical cloud levels.

* rather on the list to avoid, despite seen an ext rarely, room the Mammatus clouds (wind shear result), Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds (severe wind shear result), and Lenticular clouds (mountain wave activity)


Cloud-related turbulence avoidance.

As formerly mentioned, clouds above 20,000 ft AGL generally don’t host the intuitive indication of any type of turbulence, however that isn’t always the case.

A general ascendancy of thumb is to prevent cumulus-type clouds, an especially if over there is any vertical structure involved. Protect against cumulus clouds or in ~ the very least, be ready for turbulence once flying with these clouds (i.e. Fasten seatbelt chime, solitary chime to flight attendants to stow any type of items, etc). Once in doubt, inquiry to circumnavigate any kind of kind of cumulus cloud through ATC.

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