What impacts the type of snow we see?

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 11:41 AM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini talks about the difference snow that's easy to shovel and snow that's easy to make snowmen.

In the winter we can see different types of "snows" in the Miami Valley according to StormCenter 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. Sometimes it is wet and heavy, other times it can be light and fluffy. As meteorologists, looking at the liquid to snow ratio can guide how to forecast snow totals and the types of hazards that can occur. 


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Typically, we'd start with a 10:1 ratio, meaning ten inches of snow melted would equal one inch of water, not every snow event follows this though. The type of air mass in place, the area a storm comes from and even the surface temperatures all play a part in the ratio and type of snow seen. When it is colder the ratio is higher, there is less moisture content and the snow can be fluffier or if really cold, more like grains. 


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A wet and heavier snow often relates to a lower ratio of maybe 5:1. You can also see snowflakes that are wet and clumped together when temperatures are at or a little above freezing. A wet snow is harder to shovel and easier to make snowmen with.


A fluffier snow can accumulate quicker, is easier to shovel but can also blow and drift more which can create problems on the road.