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BACKPACKER PHOTOS

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Cloud Quiz

Test your knowledge of cloud types, and how you can use them to predict the weather. Pick your answer before advancing to the next slide to read the correct answer and learn a bit about the clouds shown.
Photography by Michael DeYoung. Michael DeYoung was an Air Force meteorologist for 12 years in Montana and Alaska. He is now a professional adventure photographer who spends the majority of his time in Alaska and New Mexico.
  • <b>Q:</b> As cool air lifts off the water and is held in place by the warmer air above, it creates a layer of stratus cloud. What can be expected within a few hours? A. Snow B. Clear to partly cloudy skies C. Thunderstorms
  • <b>A:</b> B. Clear to PC skies: With the absence of clouds above the stratus, daily heating will warm the ground and air below the stratus, breaking the inversion & causing the stratus to either evaporate or continue to rise into fair-weather cumulus.
  • <b>Q:</b> What do these lenticular clouds reveal about the weather conditions above? A. It's windy. B. It's cold. C. Aliens are coming.
  • <b>A:</b> A. It's windy, not a good day for high ridgewalks: Lenticular clouds form on the leeward side of the mountain. The opposite windward side of the range usually has more cloud cover and/or precipitation.
  • <b>Q:</b> Stratus clouds form when there is a temperature inversion. The hiker looks warm above the cloud. What can be expected of the weather below the cloud? A. It will be warmer. B. It will be cooler. C. It will be dark.
  • <b>A:</b> B. It will be cooler: A temperature inversion means cool air is trapped below warm air. Low-level temperature inversions are common in the morning hours, especially in valleys.
  • <b>Q:</b> These hikers will most likely need their rain jackets. What kind of cloud is closing in? A. Nimbostratus B.  Cirrus C.  Altocumulus
  • <b>A:</b> A. Nimbostratus: Nimbostratus clouds signal prolonged and widespread rain or snow. They are associated with frontal systems, and precipitation is usually greater where air is forced up the windward side of mountain ranges.
  • <b>Q:</b> These clouds are higher than altocumulus. What are they called? What can be expected later in the day? A. Cirrus; thunderstorms within 6-8 hours B. Nimbostratus; more sun C. Cirrocumulus; increasing winds aloft & possible changes in weather
  • <b>A:</b> C. Cirrocumulus, the least common form of cirrus. Cirrocumulus are just one indicator of an increasingly unstable atmosphere aloft.  Depending on low-level moisture supply, it may mean increased cumulus & rain showers in the next day or two.
  • <b>Q:</b> How can you tell these are cirrostratus clouds? A. They are pink. B. They look like a high-altitude veil being drawn across the sky. C.  They look puffy & appear at sunrise.
  • <b>A:</b> B. They look like a high-altitude veil being drawn across the sky:  Cirrostratus start out thin and gradually thicken. Cirrostratus is the first stage in the formation of nimbostratus.
  • <b>Q:</b> What are the tails and wisps of cirrus clouds made up of? A. Ice crystals B. Water droplets C. Wind
  • <b>A:</b> A. Ice crystals, but that doesn't necessarily mean cold weather is coming in: Cirrus are icy because they are so high up (sometime higher than 20,000 feet).
  • <b>Q:</b> If this cumulonimbus cloud seems to be approaching on your hike, what's the best course of action? A. Don't worry, be happy B. Continue until the rain starts, then begin descending C. Retreat or find shelter
  • <b>A:</b> C. Retreat or find shelter: Cumulonimbus clouds can produce downpours, lightning, thunder, hail, and strong winds. The biggest danger is exposure to lightning and hail.
  • <b>Q:</b> Fill in the blank: Judging by the nimbostratus clouds surrounding them, these rocky peaks are probably _____. A. Wet B. Hot C. Cold
  • <b>A:</b> A. Wet: It is very common for nimbostratus to last several days. Looking for signs that it will lift soon? Precipitation ending, increasing visibility, or noticeably shifting wind may be the only noticeable signs from the ground.
  • <b>Q:</b> Seeing these small, puffy altocumulus clouds at sunset, what can you expect for tomorrow's weather? A. It will probably be warmer. B. The weather may shift and more cumulus might develop. C. Bright, hot sunshine
  • <b>A:</b> B. Weather might shift: Altocumulus or mid-level clouds will rarely grow directly into precipitation producing clouds. This type of altocumulus indicates destabilizing air aloft & could mean an increase in cumulus type clouds & showers in a day.
<b>Q:</b> As cool air lifts off the water and is held in place by the warmer air above, it creates a layer of stratus cloud. What can be expected within a few hours? A. Snow B. Clear to partly cloudy skies C. Thunderstorms
Image 1 of 20

Q: As cool air lifts off the water and is held in place by the warmer air above, it creates a layer of stratus cloud. What can be expected within a few hours? A. Snow B. Clear to partly cloudy skies C. Thunderstorms

READERS COMMENTS

Page 1

Great cloud pictures. I enjoyed the quiz.
— F Walker

Ok this was awesome. Need more quizes like this.
— Orion

I'm pretty sure the lenticular formations were UFO's. Contrails were clearly seen behind them.
— BruceofTennessee

Native touch 19 out of 20, algonquin here I come.
— Herb

Great Quiz! Need more like this! Been itch en to test my cloud knowledge without consequences missed 2 answers.
— Tom LeMay

How come I got every question correct and I never remember to take an umbrella. Fun quiz.
— Barry

SCORE! 20/20 Fun Quiz! Awesome pictures and a great way to review cloud formations!
— Hobbitz

WOW, some of you are amazing, or I had another quiz. Mine only had 10 questions but was still a great way to increase my cloud knowledge. Thanks
— Buford Crabtree

This was a great quiz. I'd love to learn more. Are there any good references/books people recommend regarding clouds and weather?
— David


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