• January 20, 2017

Snow, freezing rain, graupel?

Snow, freezing rain, graupel?


All snow isn’t snow

That’s right, snow can be snow, sleet, graupel, or freezing rain.  What is the difference?  Glad you asked.  We can tell you.

As snow crystals fall through freezing cloud droplets, they form graupel.  The cloud droplets remain liquid.  Who knows why they remain liquid, however, they do.  As the graupel falls through the droplets, the droplets  grab onto the graupel and become a lumpy mess, or graupel.  Sleet and freezing rain are related to each other but different from each other.  And they are not snow or graupel.   Sleet and freezing rain start out frozen, fall through the atmosphere and unfreeze.  After that, they choose different paths.  Sleet refreezes on the way down, and lands hard, but don’t confuse sleet with ice or snow.  Freezing rain, on the other hand, doesn’t refreeze until it lands, usually on your windshield, the road, anywhere that it can cause the most havoc.  See the difference?

Freezing maybe, but really a blizzard?

Now that we are experts in deciding what type of snow is falling, are we having a blizzard?  In order to be an actual blizzard, snow has to be falling for at least three hours.  The wind must be thirty-five miles an hour or more, and visibility cannot exceed a quarter mile.  Good to know as you are out battling the elements.  Do not confuse a blizzard with either a snow burst, which results in lots of snow in almost no time, or a snow squall, lots of snow accompanied by wind.

In conclusion,

As you are working outside getting cold and eventually wet, it is good to remember that snow is actually 90-95% air.  We hope that this clears up any confusion in your mind about what is falling out of the sky and probably will continue to fall out of the sky forever.  Or at least until it stops.



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