Fractus Cloud Species: Ragged, Broken Up

  1. WhatsThisCloud
  2. Cloud Species
  3. Fractus Cloud Species

Definition: A species of cumulus or stratus cloud with a fractured, shredded appearance

Description & Characteristics. The ‘fractus’ cloud species is found in only low-altitude cumulus and stratus cloud types, and is one of only two species that’s associated with stratus clouds. Translated from latin meaning broken, their cloud abbreviations can be respectively written as ‘Cu fra’ and ‘St fra’. Fractus clouds are sometimes referred to as scud clouds and can best be described as ragged cloud shreds constantly changing shape.

It’s not always easy to distinguish cumulus fractus from stratus fractus. One suggested way to determine the cloud type is by studying the surrounding conditions and clouds that are in the vicinity. If the cloud in question shows very little detail and is surrounded by other stratus clouds, it might be a telling sign of a stratus fractus. On a clear, fair-weather day, if you see fractus clouds, chances are you’re looking at cumulus fractus.

Similar to fractus clouds, the floccus cloud species can have a ragged appearance as well, but usually are more robust and not as broken up. The pannus cloud accessory is essentially type of fractus cloud that accompanies other cloud types such as altostratus, nimbostratus, cumulonimbus, and sometimes cumulus congestus.

Other kinds of clouds associated with fractus clouds include stratus silvagenitus (forest evaporation) as well as stratus caractagentius (waterfall condensation). Fractus cloud formations are a fairly common species when cumulus and stratus clouds are present.

Cumulus fractus (Cu fra)
Stratus fractus silvagenitus (St fra sigen)
Cumulus fractus fluctus (Cu fra flu)
Stratus fractus (St fra)
A photograph of a cumulus fractus cloud (Cu fra) over a farm

Fractus Cloud Types

The fractus cloud species is associated with only two cloud types: cumulus and stratus.

A graphical illustration of a cumulus fractus cloud

Cumulus (Cu)

Low, puffy, fair-weather

A graphical illustration of a stratus fractus cloud

Stratus (St)

Low, featureless layer