Weather Hows: How Winter Precipitation Forms

Weather Blog

With the cold has come a little snow and even a Wintry mix for many. But how exactly is that frozen precipitation formed? 

You see the radar all the time… we’re essentially looking down on the map. But when it comes to determining what type of precipitation, we have to look more in the vertical. 

When the column of air is above 32 degrees… it’s all rain. Nothing can be frozen. That’s a given. 
Now lets introduce a shallow colder layer of air. This can cool the rain drops so much that when they hit the cold ground, they freeze… that’s the freezing rain. 

When you introduce a much thicker later of colder air… below 32 degrees. This can freeze the rain drop and cause ice pellets or sleet. If the entire column of air to less than 32 degrees.. that supports snow. 

What’s important to note here is that when a snowflake melts, it’ll never refreeze into another snow flake… that process only happens in the clouds. It’ll refreeze as sleet or freezing rain. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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