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Can clouds foretell flight conditions?

Our pilot answers your aviation questions.

Air Canada plane

Can clouds foretell flight conditions?
James Butterfield, Edmonton
Clouds do foretell flight conditions. Billowy, puffy clouds signal a bumpy ride ahead, while clouds based a few thousand feet above the ground typically give way to smooth conditions above. Usually, layered clouds also lead to a steady ride. An experienced eye can recognize clouds that are associated with particular weather phenomena. Even the shape of the clouds that form from another aircraft’s exhaust at higher altitudes can tip off pilots to flight conditions. I’m always attuned to the telltale signs of clouds, but that could just be the ex-meteorologist in me.

Doug Morris
Doug Morris is an Air Canada pilot and captain on the Airbus A320.

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