A promising and probably the most accurate understanding of cloud states (on a global scale) is the studying and extraction of cloud formations from satellite images. Satellites such as EUMETSAT are regularly recording the earth and publishing images to the web, every hour, half hour, or even every 15 minutes.
Currently, I’m yet to find sufficiently high enough resolution data published in this method, that will allow me to extract clouds from the images. Typical resolutions are 2km, 1km. The best images I’ve found so far were of a recording of 250m resolution, visible data.
Infrared data shows the temperatures of the clouds and hence gives an indication as to the elevation of the cloud. 3D data can be gained from this and potentially applied to particle clouds or 2D rendered clouds.