How to be a cloud detective

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What different clouds mean, explained for kids.

Welcome to our first-ever week of programming for kids!

If you’re standing outside and you look up, you’ll likely see something familiar above you: clouds! They can be long and skinny, low and rumbly, white and fluffy, or anything in between. But what do these different shapes and colors tell us?

Every cloud is packed full of information, and knowing a bit about them can help you tell the difference between different types — and help you predict the weather.

For example, cumulus clouds are pretty easy to spot. They’re the classic cloud shape: big, fluffy, white cotton balls in the sky. These usually mean fair weather; when you see them, it’s a good day to be outside.

If you see a big blanket of clouds covering the sky, they might be altostratus — and they might mean that rain is coming.

Dr. Mayra Oyola from NASA’s jet propulsion lab helped me identify these and other clouds, both common and uncommon. She shared some tips for how we can all get better at decoding clouds.

To download and print out your own cloud chart, like the one we showed in this video, get permission from your guardian or parent or have them click this link:

Correction: We misspelled "Mammatus" at 5:30.

Resources:
The Cloud Appreciation Society:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric’s cloud satellites:

We designed these episodes for kids ages 9-13, but we hope all of our audience enjoys them! You can find all of our kids videos here:

You may notice that comments are disabled on our kids’ videos. This is a default function of YouTube for kids programming.

If you’re a parent, educator, or a kid at heart, please sign up for our newsletter for updates on all of our upcoming kids’ programming at Vox, from podcasts to videos to new shows:

Special thanks to Rachel Gianni, a consultant we worked with on this week of programming


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