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Snow Facts and Trivia — Get in the Snow

Snow Facts and Trivia — Get in the Snow

True or False:

Sometimes, when the temperature is around the 40 degree F mark, it can still snow.

True: It can snow when the temperature is above freezing, and it can rain when the air temperature on the ground is below freezing.

Why? You cannot rely on the ground temperature only. You must also consider the temperature of the air above you. Sometimes-especially during March and April-there can be a layer of very cold air several thousand feet above you. As the atmosphere warms, this cold layer of air becomes increasingly unstable, which eventually causes some form of the precipitation. If at the higher altitudes it is below freezing, the precipitation falls as snow. Near the ground, there might be a very shallow layer of warmer-than-freezing air. As the snowflakes descend through the warmer air, they don’t have enough time to fully melt; instead they turn into very large snowflakes (sometimes the size of silver dollars!) In such very special conditions, you can have a snow fall, even if your backyard thermometer is reading well above freezing.


It can be too cold to snow.

False: It can snow even at very cold temperatures if there’s a source of moisture and some way to lift or cool the air. However, if the temperature drops to the single digits or to below zero, the capacity for water vapor to form becomes very small, making heavy snowfall very unlikely. A better statement might be: It can be too cold to snow heavily. Most heavy snowfalls happen when air temperatures near the ground are relatively warm (15°F or above).

Snowbelts are areas of the country known for receiving a lot of snow.

True: Snowbelt is the term used for areas located downwind of large lakes that are known to get heavy snow in the winter. In the U.S., the snowbelt region is the area that is very close to the Great Lakes. Near these lakes, lake effect snow is caused by cold air picking up moisture while crossing the lake and then releasing it as snow when the air cools over land. The lakes produce lake effect snow and continuous cloudy skies throughout the winter months, as long as air temperatures are colder than the lake water temperatures.

Each year more than 100 snow-producing storms affect the continental United States.

True . The average number of snow producing storms in a year is 105. A typical storm will have a snow-producing lifetime of two to five days and will bring snow to portions of several states.

The Farmers’ Almanac is calling for lots of snow in the northern sections of the U.S.

True. New England, Great Lakes, and the North Central States are predicted to have a cold, white winter. Check out our long-range outlook here.

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