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parallel bands or rounded masses
[Image: puffy altocumulus clouds (87K)]
Altocumulus may appear as parallel bands (top photograph) or
rounded masses (bottom photograph).
Typically a portion of an altocumulus cloud is
shaded, a characteristic which makes them distinguishable from the
Altocumulus clouds usually form by convection in an
unstable layer aloft, which may result
from the gradual lifting of air in advance
of a cold front.
The presence of altocumulus clouds on a warm and humid summer morning
is commonly followed by thunderstorms later in the day.
Also found at mid-levels are altostratus clouds, which
are often confused with high-level
One distinguishing feature is that a halo
is not observed around the sun (or moon) when viewed
through altostratus, but is a common feature associated
with cirrostratus clouds.
In fact, the sun (or moon) is only vaguely visible through
altostratus clouds and appears
as if it were shining through frosted glass.