Cumulus congestus (Towering cumulus)


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Cumulus congestus clouds form in deep moist convection, as an intermediate stage between cumulus mediocris and cumulonimbus – a cumulus mediocris will grow into a cumulus congestus if enough convective energy is available. In aviation cumulus congestus is also known as towering cumulus (International Civil Aviation Organization). Cumulus congestus is a sign of a very unstable atmosphere, and may lead to formation of thunderstorms.


  • Typically taller than wide.
  • Air in the cloud has not yet reached freezing, retaining the sharp, cauliflower shape.
  • Great vertical development.
  • Reaching up to 6 km high (20 000 ft).
  • Frequently produce rainfall, rarely produce intense showers.
  • Form from cumulus mediocris.
  • Also may produce landspouts and waterspouts.


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