Annenberg Learner Home Home FAQ View Programs Buy Videos Workshops & Courses

Mammatus Clouds
Mammatus clouds are round, dark clouds that form when moisture-laden air rapidly rises high in a cumulonimbus cloud during a storm. This rising air is warmer than the surrounding air and is pushed quickly outward, giving it the appearance of an upside-down cumulus cloud. The air begins to sink once its upward motion stops and it begins to cool. Mammatus clouds can precede or follow stormy weather events such as tornadoes. Very large mammatus are a strong indicator of nearby severe weather.