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Quiz: Can You Name These 6 Cloud Formations?

Pilots need to know clouds - especially which ones to stay away from. What weather related pilot job suits you best? Let's find out...


  1. 1) You're headed to the airport and see this cloud. What is it? 
    stem-1 cardiffjackie

    Awesome! Lenticular clouds are often mistaken to be UFOs. They are usually caused due to some prominent geographic features, such as mountains. 

    Nice try. Lenticular clouds are often mistaken to be UFOs. They are usually caused due to some prominent geographic features, such as mountains. 

    1. 1-autocumulus
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    2. 1-cumulonimbus
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    3. 1-lenticular
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    1. 1-stratus
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    2. 1-cirrus
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    3. 1-ufo
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  2. 2) You're preflighting and see this cloud formation. What is it?
    Stem - 3 FAA

    Awesome! Cumulonimbus mammatus clouds look like bulbous pouches sticking out of the base of a cloud. They can indicate severe turbulence, so steer clear!

    Nice try. Cumulonimbus mammatus clouds look like bulbous pouches sticking out of the base of a cloud. They can indicate severe turbulence, so steer clear!

    1. 3 - Alto
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    2. 3 - Alto Len
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    3. 3 - Cirrus
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    1. 3 - Cu Mamm
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    2. 3 - Strato
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    3. 3 - Stratus
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  3. 3) A volcano erupts and you see an ash cloud surrounded by a normal, white cloud. What is it? 
    stem-3 Wiki Commons

    Awesome! A pileus cloud formation is caused by strong, relatively fast upward motion. Situations like this occur during volcanic eruptions, towering cumulus, and even nuclear explosions. 

    Nice Try. A pileus cloud formation is caused by strong, relatively fast upward motion. Situations like this occur during volcanic eruptions, towering cumulus, and even nuclear explosions. 

    1. 3-cirrus
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    2. 3-lenticular
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    3. 3-mammatus
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    1. 3-nimbostratus
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    2. 3-pileus
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    3. 3-stratus
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  4. 4) You walk outside well after sunset and see these incredible clouds lighting up the night sky. What are they?
    stem-4 NASA

    Awesome! Noctilucent clouds are formed by ice clouds at the boundary of the Earth's atmosphere, 50 miles high in the sky. These clouds are visible well after the sun has set because of their extreme altitude (the sun can still shine on them far above our own horizon line!). 

    Nice try. Noctilucent clouds are formed by ice clouds at the boundary of the Earth's atmosphere, 50 miles high in the sky. These clouds are visible well after the sun has set because of their extreme altitude (the sun can still shine on them far above our own horizon line!). 

    1. 4-cirrus
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    2. 4-ghost
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    3. 4-noticulent
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    1. 4-stratus
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    2. 4-towering
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    3. 4-translucent
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  5. 5) You look out of your Cessna 172's window and see these. What are they? 
    stem-5 NASA

    Awesome! Roll clouds (a type of arcus clouds) are usually formed by outflows of cold air from sea breezes or cold fronts, in the absence of thunder storms. In this case, a sea breeze most likely created these crazy looking clouds. 

    Nice try. Roll clouds (a type of arcus clouds) are usually formed by outflows of cold air from sea breezes or cold fronts, in the absence of thunder storms. In this case, a sea breeze most likely created these crazy looking clouds. 

    1. 5-front-line
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    2. 5-roll
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    3. 5-shoestring
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    1. 5-squall
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    2. 5-tipping
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    3. 5-low-cirrus
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  6. 6) It's like surfing in the sky. What are these clouds called? 
    stem-6 NCAR

    Awesome! These cloud resemble breaking and crashing waves are called Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. They form when two layers of air or liquid of different densities move past each other at different speeds, creating shearing at the boundary.

    Nice try. These cloud resemble breaking and crashing waves are called Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. They form when two layers of air or liquid of different densities move past each other at different speeds, creating shearing at the boundary.

    1. 6-cirrus
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    2. 6-kelvin
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    3. 6-mammatus
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    1. 6-roll
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    2. 6-stratus
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    3. 6-tsunami
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You're a cloud seeding pilot - make it rain!

Well done - you scored %. Now get out there and seed some clouds! Think you know more about clouds than your friends? Pass it on and find out!

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You're a NASA research jet pilot!

Nicely done - you scored %! You know your cloud formations, and you can navigate a DC-8 through the most dangerous ones. Think you know more about clouds than your friends? Pass it on and find out!

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You're a hurricane hunter pilot!

AWESOME - you scored %! Now hop in your P-3 Orion and track down some hurricanes! Think you know more about cloud formations than your friends? Pass it on and find out!

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Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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