Sc stratiformis perlucidus

Formation of stratocumulus clouds at altitudes of between 1000 metres and 1350 metres, perhaps even higher, and with a subsidence inversion at around 2000 metres as depicted in the weather sounding on the second thumbnail. This day and the following 2 days were characterized by cloudy skies composed of exactly the same cloud formation. The cloud formation was due to an Azores anticyclone centred around the Maltese Islands trapping a cooler airmass in the lower layers as depicted by the surface pressure chart in the third thumbnail. Due to a warmer sea and steep lapse rate at the lower levels, this encouraged normal cumulus clouds to form as evident in the photo’s background on the right hand side. Upon the bubbling cumulus clouds reaching a stable layer in the atmosphere, these began to spread outwards pretty much like smoke spreading onto a ceiling, with the cloud now becoming stratocumulus stratiformis. As it continues to spread, some of the cloud breaks up producing gaps of blue sky in the cloud cover hence the variety of perlucidus. In the Maltese Islands, it would be very rare to have long-lasting stratocumulus clouds in the Summer months because the Mediterranean sunshine of July tends to evaporate such clouds very quickly unlike Wintry sunshine which is much weaker. The first thumbnail is another photo of the same cloud species taken 2 days later under the same weather sonditions described and the fourth thumbnail is showing stratocumulus clouds in patches over the sea areas and on Sicily in diurnal heating. Normally these clouds do not produce any rain and in most cases when it does rain, only drizzle despite having dark bases.

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