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How fresh snow can impact temperatures

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 7:55 AM
Updated: Monday, January 14, 2019 @ 7:28 AM

How a snow pack impacts temperatures

Fresh snow can play a big role in keeping the Miami Valley colder in the winter, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

RELATED: Winter Weather Advisory issued ahead of accumulating snow tonight

“With no snow on the ground, sunshine warms the ground, and in turn the air,” Zontini said. “This can help us get into the 30s or 40s even during the winter when the ground is snow-free.”

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But when snow is on the ground, the story changes, Zontini says.

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“Snow has a high albedo, which means it can very effectively reflect incoming solar radiation it receives from the sun during the day. Snow pack will reflect about 50-percent to 90-percent of the incoming solar rays back out to space and the other part is used to melt the snow,” Zontini said. 

RELATED: Photos: US dealing with burtal cold, snow heading into New Year’s holiday

Because the snow is reflecting the solar radiation, the radiation doesn’t have the ability to warm the ground and air, meaning colder temperatures during the day and at night. 

“At night, especially with clear skies, the snow is a great radiator of any little heat the earth absorbed during the day back out at night. Nights with fresh snow and clear skies in the winter can sometimes produce record-breaking low temperatures as well,” Zontini said.