An analysis of surface observations of cloud characteristics from a selected high‐latitude station, Resolute (N.W.T., Canada), is described. The data set has a high temporal resolution (1 h) and is extensive although here we report only on an analysis of 10 years: 1970–1979, inclusive. The pattern of cloudiness variations is more complex than previous studies of Arctic data have suggested. The predominant reported low‐level cloud type is stratocumulus, not stratus. The generally overcast summer conditions are found to extend over a considerable period when cloud cover is composed of several layers, often of types other than stratus. This observation of multilayering suggests that middle and high cloud layers may occur more frequently than they can be observed. Clearly a more accurate awareness of hidden cloud is important for improving solutions of the planetary radiation budget. The surface radiation budget is found to be strongly affected by the development of the summertime overcast but also exhibits features caused by the mid‐summer break‐up of the lower cloud layer.