How do the various forms of winter precipitation develop when when temperatures at or above the surface dip below freezing?
Snow Sleet Freezing Rain
  • Flurries: Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.
  • Showers: Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.
  • Squalls: Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant. 
  • Blowing Snow: Wind driven-snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the
    ground that is picked up by the wind.
  • Blizzard: Winds over 35 mph with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to near zero.
  • Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorist.
  • Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.
Snow Formation With Deep Cold Layer Sleet Formation With Shallow Warm Air Between Cold Layers Freezing Rain Formation With Deep Warm Layer Between Cold Layers

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