Weather Facts: Precipitation

With the second round of wintry mix possible this weekend, Wednesday we'll talk about the difference between freezing rain, sleet and snow and how does all these kinds of precipitation form?

What kind of precipitation that falls this time of year all depends on the temperature profile as you go up in the atmosphere.

In the winter months, all precipitation starts out as snowflakes in the clouds but will change as it falls to the ground.

When the air temperature is below 32 degrees from the cloud to the ground the chances of seeing snow are very high especially if cloud temperature is in the single digits.

It can snow or sleet when the temperature is slightly above freezing near the ground because the snowflakes or sleet pellets don't have time to melt in the warmer pocket of air near the ground. It will have a hard time sticking because ground is above freezing.

Sleet forms when the snowflakes enter a layer of warmer air above the surface and melt into raindrops.

Then they continue to fall into a deep layer of freezing air closer to the ground and become ice pellets before reaching us.

Freezing rain occurs when the subfreezing air very shallow and close to the surface. The rain basically freezes on contact.

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