Location: Hart Mountain, looking northeast | Photographer: Greg Burke
While most of our cloud types are capable of precipitating, cumulonimbus and nimbostratus bring us most of our rainfall. The Latin word nimbus means “rain.” Cumulonimbus are heaped clouds and tend to form, storm, and dissipate quickly; nimbostratus are layered clouds that move in more slowly, rain steadily, and often overstay their welcome. The clouds in this photo (to the northeast) appear to be cumulonimbus, both actively raining in the distance and perhaps older “rained out” ones in the foreground.
Interestingly, what these clouds are producing — rain — is actually snow melting on its way down from the inside of this deep cloud. The bright sunlight in the foreground and on this tee-pee suggest the sky is clear to the southwest. Knowing which way the storm is moving will help you decide whether to seek shelter or look forward to clearing skies.