In satellite meteorology, a rope cloud is a very long narrow, rope-like band of cumulus cloud formations. These clouds are sometimes visible in satellite imagery along a changing weather front or other boundaries. For this reason, they can be used to diagnose the location of the leading edge of a weather system
Rope clouds are generally associated with a cold front or a land-sea breeze front. The term is sometimes used synonymously with rope or rope funnel.
An exceptional example of a rope cloud is these images from the GOES West satellite of a well-defined rope cloud that stretched for nearly 1000 miles in the East Pacific Ocean on January 16, 2019. The cloud marked the cold front position at the time of the image, which was associated with a Hurricane Force low.
Not all rope clouds are associated with cold fronts. An example of a rope cloud caused by a land-sea breeze front was spotted in the northern Gulf of Mexico. With ample illumination from the moon—in the Waxing Gibbous phase, at 90% full—a Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band image provided a “visible image at night.”
Another example is this long, narrow rope cloud that the GOES East satellite watched pushing across the Gulf of Mexico and Florida on April 26, 2021