West Texas Wonders:
West Texas Cloud Appreciation: How Do Clouds Form, And What Are Some Identification Tips?

By Sally Beauvais

As we approach the end of monsoon season in West Texas, now’s a good time to step outside and take a moment to appreciate the dramatic summer storm clouds that bring the majority of our region’s annual rainfall, from May through September.

But no matter the time of year, the cloud show is always pretty spectacular out here in Big Bend country.

A cumulonimbus cloud towers over Marfa. (Ross Cashiola / West Texas Cloud Appreciation Society)

Former Marfa resident Adele Powers certainly thinks so. But for her, simply looking at clouds without understanding more about them is not enough. So, as a part of her broader quest to learn more stuff about the natural world around her, she asked West Texas Wonders:

How and why do clouds form, and are there some easy or basic tips for cloud identification?


  • A walk down a dirt road with Ross Cashiola, co-founder of the mysterious West Texas Cloud Appreciation Society
  • Wisdoms about cloud formation and strangely wonderful tunes from this 1968 film by the National Educational Television and Radio Center
  • Basic cloud identification tips from Rick Hluchan with the National Weather Service in Midland
  • Adele Powers singing along to Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now

Listen to the full story above.

According to Rick Hluchan with Midland NWS, altocumulus clouds on summer mornings can be a predictor of thunderstorms later in the day. (Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio)
A pair of lonely cumulus clouds over Marfa. (Ross Cashiola / West Texas Cloud Appreciation Society)
Layers of stratus clouds at sunset. (Adele Powers)
Mammatus clouds over Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. (Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio)
Feathery cirrus clouds hang out in the upper reaches of our atmosphere. They are made up of ice crystals. (Ross Cashiola / West Texas Cloud Appreciation Society)

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About Sally Beauvais

Sally Beauvais reports on rural issues in Far West Texas. She also runs Marfa Public Radio's engagement efforts.
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West Texas Wonders is a storytelling initiative from Marfa Public Radio that invites you to take part in the stories we cover. Visit marfapublicradio.org/curious for more information.