At their most basic level, clouds are no more than condensed water and/or ice. These fluffy white substances are created when warm air rises, cools, then condenses onto dust particles in the air, forming tiny droplets around each particle. As more and more particles attach together, a cloud forms.
Scientists primarily classify clouds by their altitude, shape and process of creation. Though there are four main cloud categories, cloud formations can be further broken down and described by more specific names, which are derived from Latin terms that describe their qualities.
Lenticular clouds form at high altitudes, and are usually perpendicular to the wind. As evident in the following pictures, it is common for these clouds to form directly above or near mountains, as landforms create optimal air conditions for lenticular clouds. Lenticular clouds have a circular, lens-like shape that has prompted many false UFO sightings.
Mammatus clouds are quite possibly the most incredible, bizarre cloud formation in the world. Often forming on the underside of a thunderstorm’s anvil, they have a unique, often ominous, pouch-like shape. Mammatus clouds are also called mammatocumulus, meaning “mammary” or “breast” clouds.