Cumulonimbus, from the Latin cumulus ("heaped") and nimbus ("rainstorm"), is a dense, towering vertical cloud, forming from water vapor carried by powerful upward air currents. If observed during a storm, these clouds may be referred to as thunderheads. Cumulonimbus can form alone, in clusters, or along cold front squall lines. These clouds are capable of producing lightning and other dangerous severe weather, such as tornadoes. Cumulonimbus progress from overdeveloped cumulus congestus clouds and may further develop as part of a supercell. Cumulonimbus is abbreviated Cb.
== Appearance ==
Towering cumulonimbus clouds are typically accompanied by smaller cumulus clouds. The cumulonimbus base may extend several miles across and occupy low to middle altitudes - formed at altitude from approximately . Peaks typically reach to as much as , with extreme instances as high as or more. Well-developed cumulonimbus clouds are characterized by a flat, anvil-like top (anvil dome), caused by wind shear or inversion near the tropopause. The shelf of the anvil may precede the main cloud's vertical component for many miles, and be accompanied by lightning. Occasionally, rising air parcels surpass the equilibrium level (due to momentum) and form an overshooting top culminating at the maximum parcel level. When vertically developed, this largest of all clouds usually extends through all three cloud regions. Even the smallest cumulonimbus cloud dwarfs its neighbors in comparison.
=== Species ===
* cumulonimbus calvus: cloud with puffy top, similar to cumulus congestus which it develops from; under the correct conditions it can become a cumulonimbus capillatus. * cumulonimbus capillatus : cloud with cirrus-like, fibrous-edged top.