Floccus Cloud Species: Puffy, Ragged Tufts

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Definition: A frazzled cloud conglomerate with an appearance resembling locks of wool

Description & Characteristics. The ‘floccus’ cloud species can be found amongst four cloud types: cirrus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus, and stratocumulus. Translated from latin, meaning lock of wool, the four types of floccus clouds are respectively abbreviated as ‘Ci flo’, ‘Cc flo’, ‘Ac flo’, and ‘Sc flo’. When identifying floccus clouds, look for ragged groups and heaps of clouds. These clouds are usually not connected at a base, though they can be in close proximation to one another.

It’s easier to spot floccus clouds in stratocumulus and altocumulus clouds compared to cirrocumulus clouds, mostly because they’re easier to see with the naked eye and perhaps a bit more common. Cirrus floccus clouds are a bit easier to make out than cirrocumulus floccus clouds, but probably not as common as stratocumulus and altocumulus floccus clouds.

As a cloudspotter, know that fractus and castellanus clouds can sometimes be confused with floccus clouds. Fractus clouds are broken up cumulus and stratus clouds, but aren’t found in groups like floccus clouds might be. Floccus clouds, while having a ragged underside, are usually more cumuliform in appearance on top compared to fractus clouds. Castellanus clouds are differentiated by their more vertical appearance whereas floccus clouds aren’t.

The floccus species of cloud isn’t common, but certainly not unusual either. Evaporating rain strips (cloud feature virga) can also usually be seen in floccus cloud formations, especially in altocumulus cloud type, and look like flying jellyfish.

Stratocumulus floccus (Sc flo)
Altocumulus floccus (Ac flo)
Cirrus fibratus (Ci fib), Cirrus spissatus (Ci spi), Cirrocumulus floccus (Cc flo)
Cirrus floccus radiatus (Ci flo ra)
Stratocumulus floccus (Sc flo)
A photograph of stratocumulus floccus clouds (Sc flo) over the Colorado front range

Floccus Cloud Types

The floccus cloud species is associated with the following four cloud types: cirrus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus, and stratocumulus.

A graphical illustration of a cirrus floccus cloud

Cirrus (Ci)

High, wispy streaks

A graphical illustration of a cirrocumulus floccus cloud

Cirrocumulus (Cc)

High-altitude cloudlets

A graphical illustration of an altocumulus floccus cloud

Altocumulus (Ac)

Mid-altitude cloud heaps

A graphical illustration of a stratocumulus floccus cloud

Stratocumulus (Sc)

Low, puffy layer