What forms layers of clouds?

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by George Foster, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. George Foster

    George Foster Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi, I've seen two and three layers of clouds in stable air up to 12,500 feet, the highest I've flown. Do layers of clouds form during inversions, only? Is there mathematical formula which would predict if layers are likely?
     
  2. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Looking at a Skew-T diagram when this is happening would be interesting. And might answer the question.

    Any chance you have a date/time/location for what you saw?
     
  3. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    It doesn’t always have to be “inversions”. I believe sometimes it is just different lapse rates vs dew points.
     
  4. George Foster

    George Foster Filing Flight Plan

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    No, I don't have a time and date. It's something that has been on my mind. Thought I'd ask.
     
  5. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    I was thinking similar.... and seeing the "profile" that the Skew-T provides can be helpful in how this develops....

    Pinging @scottd in case he makes a fly by of the forums and can add to this thread.
     
  6. George Foster

    George Foster Filing Flight Plan

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    I'm reading up on the Skew-T now. Very interesting..... Thanks
     
  7. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This might help with the basics...

     
  8. sonopoa

    sonopoa Pre-Flight

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    This is something IFR pilots regularly see.


    Skew Ts are just a sounding at a particular location which isnt really much help unless you are flying right there and staying there..

    Your question is a good question that discerning ifr pilots want to know more about, but then if trained experienced weather forecasters cant do this, it seems challenging for someone who is not in that category (like me)

    I think the mechanics of multiple layers are quite complex, bearing in mind your cant get reliable forecasts of overall cloud bases and tops in any particular area even today. Discussions involve lapse rates of which there are several cateogories.
    This may or may not help as an introduction.
    http://kiwi.atmos.colostate.edu/cmmap/learn/clouds/lapseRate.html
     
  9. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Line Up and Wait

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  10. sarangan

    sarangan Line Up and Wait

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    Clouds form when temperature and dewpoint converge. Stratus clouds in stable air, cumulus in unstable air. That's about all we can say. If you want to know how to forecast this, then you are on your own. Meteorologists spend a lifetime with the aid of huge computers, and still can't get it perfectly right. I doubt you can do it better with a handheld calculator and a skewT chart.
     
  11. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Also consider that winds at different elevations may be moving different directions. These may, or may not form inversion layers, or simply extra variations in moisture content. The inverted layers can occur especially if the upper layer is blowing off of high plains where what was them ground layer heated up, then blew over, and on top of lower air formations. I believe this is part of how the unstable north central Texas thunderstorm and tornado potential is formed.
     
  12. IK04

    IK04 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Temperature. That's all. And mountains.
     
  13. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    Drinking tequllia and bourbon.