The Weather Outside is Frightful!

winter_weatherWe have had a fairly mild winter thus far, and our weather is certainly not as “frightful” as some other parts of the country, but we have been seeing a bit of winter reality from early yesterday morning through today.  There are generally four types of precipitation that can occur during winter: rain, freezing rain, snow, and sleet.  Within the last couple of days, we have experienced three of the four (no sleet [yet] that I’m aware of).

  • Rain is water droplets that form in clouds and fall to the ground.  Did you also know that all precipitation starts out as ice or snow crystals at the cloud level?  As this frozen precipitation falls into a layer of sufficiently warmer air (with temperatures above freezing) it melts into rain. If this warm air extends all the way to the surface of the earth, rain will fall at ground level.
  • Freezing rain occurs when the rain droplets fall into a shallow layer of cold air near the earth’s surface and freeze upon contact with the ground, leaving a coating or glaze.
  • Snow is frozen precipitation in the form of a six-sided ice crystal.  Snow requires temperatures to be below freezing in all or most of the atmosphere from the surface to cloud level.
  • Sleet is frozen precipitation falling as ice pellets. Ice pellets occur when snowflakes melt into raindrops as they pass through a thin layer of warmer air.  The raindrops then refreeze into particles of ice when they fall into a layer of sub-freezing air near the surface of the earth.  The difference between sleet and freezing rain: with freezing rain the subfreezing air is so shallow that the raindrops do not have time to refreeze into ice until they make contact with the ground.  Sleet is different from hail as well.  Sleet only occurs in the winter, hail usual falls from a thunderstorm during the warmer spring and summer months.

So, as we head out this morning, stay safe, stay warm, and drive cautiously!

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2 Responses to “The Weather Outside is Frightful!”

  1. Scott Says:

    but I find it so delightful!

  2. Tom Rink Says:

    Yes, but in moderation. The degree of delight is proportionate to the amount of time I have to spend in it.

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