It’s Time To Appreciate Clouds!

Wrinkled clouds in Pittsburgh, 7 Jan 2018

A week ago, 7 Jan 2019, the National Weather Service said the sky was clear at Pittsburgh International Airport but I have proof that at that moment it was overcast in the East End.

Not only was it overcast but the clouds were doing something special near the Cathedral of Learning. See that wrinkle? Is that undulation? Or is it the beginning of an asperitas formation?

Asperitas clouds are newly named, the first formation to be added to the International Cloud Atlas in 66 years. They were proposed by the Cloud Appreciation Society in 2009 and accepted in 2017. The atlas goes back to 1896 so this is a big deal.

This video of asperitas clouds in Tenerife, featured by the Cloud Appreciation Society, shows how fascinating these clouds can be.

Thick clouds say “Pittsburgh in winter” all over them. Stratus (low) and altostratus (mid-level) are our specialty but we also have altocumulus undulatus, cumulus fractus and sometimes even mammatus. Click to see what they look like.

Yes, we have overcast skies (tell me about it!) but there are cool things above us if we just take the time to look. Watch the video to get in the mood (exciting background music!).

C’mon, Pittsburgh, it’s time to appreciate clouds!

(photo by Kate St. John, video from on YouTube)

p.s. Did you know that clouds have a genus and species? At the bottom of this webpage is a cloud diagram that shows genus by height. Explore the International Cloud Atlas.

p.p.s. The sun is at the top edge of my photograph. Do you see it?