Winter Precipitation Explained
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -
Even though we haven’t officially marked the start of winter just yet, the county has already seen its first snowfall event and even earlier this week, we picked up on a bit of a wintry mix. But what differentiates between all the different types of precipitation? Well we’re gonna start things off with rain. We have a shallow layer of cold air in the upper levels of the atmosphere. But eventually, as you go lower and lower towards the surface, it encounters a deeper layer of warmer air and that’s why things fall as rain. But then, we have your freezing rain. Still encountering that shallow layer of cold air in the upper levels of the atmosphere. And we still have that deeper layer of warm air going from the middle of the atmosphere all the way close to the surface. Once it reaches the surface, we have another shallow layer of cold air and those raindrops eventually freeze on contact with your roadways. Now we have sleet so encountering that shallow layer of cold air in the upper levels of the atmosphere. Then things melt as we encounter a little shallow layer of warmer air in the middle levels of the atmosphere. But finally we have another deeper layer of cold air going all the way down to the surface and that’s what allows things to fall as ice pellets or in the form of sleet. Finally, what happens with snowfall? You have a cooler layer of air from the upper levels of the atmosphere all the way down to the surface. But what kinds of impacts can this cause on the roadways?
We’re gonna start things off with your freezing rain. You want to think of that as your glazed donut as those raindrops when they freeze on contact with the roadways create a bit of a glaze causing some slick conditions on the roadways. Now with your sleet you want to think of that as your sprinkle donut because those are falling as ice pellets as they reach the surface. Finally with your snow, you want to think of that as your powdered sugar donut. As you have that precipitation falling as snow it still causes some slick conditions. But even with rainfall that can also create some impacts to the roadways as if we do get quite a bit of rain, it can result in some localized flooding and ponding on the roadways. So now matter what type of precipitation you do encounter this winter, it’s important to make sure you stay safe and take it slow on the roadways.
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