Freezing drizzle

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Freezing drizzle is drizzle that freezes on contact with the ground or an object at or near the surface. Its METAR code is FZDZ. [1]

Drizzle light liquid precipitation

Drizzle is a light liquid precipitation consisting of liquid water drops smaller than those of rain – generally smaller than 0.5 mm (0.02 in) in diameter. Drizzle is normally produced by low stratiform clouds and stratocumulus clouds. Precipitation rates from drizzle are on the order of a millimetre (0.04 in) per day or less at the ground. Owing to the small size of drizzle drops, under many circumstances drizzle largely evaporates before reaching the surface and so may be undetected by observers on the ground. The METAR code for drizzle is DZ and for freezing drizzle is FZDZ.

METAR is a format for reporting weather information. A METAR weather report is predominantly used by pilots in fulfillment of a part of a pre-flight weather briefing, and by meteorologists, who use aggregated METAR information to assist in weather forecasting.

Contents

Formation

Although freezing drizzle and freezing rain are similar in that they both involve liquid precipitation at the surface in subfreezing temperatures, the mechanisms leading to their development are entirely different. Where freezing rain forms when frozen precipitation falls through a melting layer, freezing drizzle forms via the supercooled warm-rain process, in which cloud droplets coalesce until they become heavy enough to fall out of the cloud. [2] Despite this process taking place in a subfreezing environment, the liquid water will not freeze if the environmental temperature is above 18 °F (−8 °C). [3] If ice crystals are already present in this environment, the liquid droplets will freeze onto these crystals and be effectively removed before they can grow large enough to fall out of the cloud. As a result, freezing drizzle develops in shallow stratus-type clouds where saturation occurs entirely below the layer in which ice crystals can develop and grow. [2]

Freezing rain is the name given to rain maintained at temperatures below freezing by the ambient air mass that causes freezing on contact with surfaces. Unlike a mixture of rain and snow, ice pellets, or hail, freezing rain is made entirely of liquid droplets. The raindrops become supercooled while passing through a sub-freezing layer of air hundreds of meters above the ground, and then freeze upon impact with any surface they encounter, including the ground, trees, electrical wires, aircraft, and automobiles. The resulting ice, called glaze ice, can accumulate to a thickness of several centimeters and cover all exposed surfaces. The METAR code for freezing rain is FZRA.

Precipitation product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapour that falls under gravity

In meteorology, precipitation is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation include drizzle, rain, sleet, snow, graupel and hail. Precipitation occurs when a portion of the atmosphere becomes saturated with water vapor, so that the water condenses and "precipitates". Thus, fog and mist are not precipitation but suspensions, because the water vapor does not condense sufficiently to precipitate. Two processes, possibly acting together, can lead to air becoming saturated: cooling the air or adding water vapor to the air. Precipitation forms as smaller droplets coalesce via collision with other rain drops or ice crystals within a cloud. Short, intense periods of rain in scattered locations are called "showers."

Ice crystals

Ice crystals are solid ice exhibiting atomic ordering on various length scales and include hexagonal columns, hexagonal plates, dendritic crystals, and diamond dust.

Effects

When freezing drizzle accumulates on land, it creates an icy layer of glaze. Freezing drizzle alone does not generally result in significant ice accumulations due to its light, low-intensity nature. However, even thin layers of slick ice deposited on roads as black ice can cause extremely hazardous conditions resulting in vehicle crashes.

Black ice thin coating of glazed ice on a surface

Black ice, sometimes called clear ice, is a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface, especially on roads. The ice itself is not black, but visually transparent, allowing the often black road below to be seen through it. The typically low levels of noticeable ice pellets, snow, or sleet surrounding black ice means that areas of the ice are often practically invisible to drivers or people stepping on it. There is, thus, a risk of slippage and subsequent accident due to the unexpected loss of traction.

Freezing drizzle is extremely dangerous to aircraft, as the supercooled water droplets will freeze onto the airframe, degrading aircraft performance considerably. The loss of American Eagle Flight 4184 on October 31, 1994, has been attributed to ice buildup due to freezing drizzle aloft. [2]

American Eagle Flight 4184

American Eagle Flight 4184 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Indianapolis, Indiana to Chicago, Illinois, United States. On October 31, 1994, the ATR 72 performing this route flew into severe icing conditions, lost control and crashed into a field. All 68 people aboard were killed in the high speed impact.

See also

Related Research Articles

Frost coating or deposit of ice that may form in humid air in cold conditions, usually overnight

Frost is a thin layer of ice on a solid surface, which forms from water vapor in an above freezing atmosphere coming in contact with a solid surface whose temperature is below freezing, and resulting in a phase change from water vapor to ice as the water vapor reaches the freezing point. In temperate climates, it most commonly appears on surfaces near the ground as fragile white crystals; in cold climates, it occurs in a greater variety of forms. The propagation of crystal formation occurs by the process of nucleation.

Cirrus cloud genus of atmospheric cloud

Cirrus is a genus of atmospheric cloud generally characterized by thin, wispy strands, giving the type its name from the Latin word cirrus, meaning a ringlet or curling lock of hair. This cloud can form at any altitude between 16,500 ft and 45,000 ft above sea level. The strands of cloud sometimes appear in tufts of a distinctive form referred to by the common name of "mares' tails".

Fog atmospheric phenomenon

Fog is a visible aerosol consisting of tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. Fog can be considered a type of low-lying cloud, usually resembling stratus, and is heavily influenced by nearby bodies of water, topography, and wind conditions. In turn, fog has affected many human activities, such as shipping, travel, and warfare.

Diamond dust is a ground-level cloud composed of tiny ice crystals. This meteorological phenomenon is also referred to simply as ice crystals and is reported in the METAR code as IC. Diamond dust generally forms under otherwise clear or nearly clear skies, so it is sometimes referred to as clear-sky precipitation. Diamond dust is most commonly observed in Antarctica and the Arctic, but can occur anywhere with a temperature well below freezing. In the polar regions of Earth, diamond dust may persist for several days without interruption.

Stratus cloud genus of clouds, low-level clouds characterized by horizontal layering with a uniform base, as opposed to convective or cumuliform clouds that are formed by rising thermals

Stratus clouds are low-level clouds characterized by horizontal layering with a uniform base, as opposed to convective or cumuliform clouds that are formed by rising thermals. More specifically, the term stratus is used to describe flat, hazy, featureless clouds of low altitude varying in color from dark gray to nearly white. The word "stratus" comes from the Latin prefix "strato-", meaning "layer". Stratus clouds may produce a light drizzle or a small amount of snow. These clouds are essentially above-ground fog formed either through the lifting of morning fog or through cold air moving at low altitudes over a region. Some call these clouds "high fog" for the fog-like cloud. While light rain may fall, this cloud does not indicate much meteorological activity.

A winter storm is an event in which varieties of precipitation are formed that only occur at low temperatures, such as snow or sleet, or a rainstorm where ground temperatures are low enough to allow ice to form. In temperate continental climates, these storms are not necessarily restricted to the winter season, but may occur in the late autumn and early spring as well. Very rarely, they may form in summer, though it would have to be an abnormally cold summer, such as the summer of 1816 in the Northeastern United States.

Supercooling, also known as undercooling, is the process of lowering the temperature of a liquid or a gas below its freezing point without it becoming a solid.

In physics and chemistry, flash freezing is a naturally occurring phenomenon used commonly in the food industry and by meteorologists for the purpose of forecasting.

Cloud physics Study of the physical processes in atmospheric clouds

Cloud physics is the study of the physical processes that lead to the formation, growth and precipitation of atmospheric clouds. These aerosols are found in the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere, which collectively make up the greatest part of the homosphere. Clouds consist of microscopic droplets of liquid water, tiny crystals of ice, or both. Cloud droplets initially form by the condensation of water vapor onto condensation nuclei when the supersaturation of air exceeds a critical value according to Köhler theory. Cloud condensation nuclei are necessary for cloud droplets formation because of the Kelvin effect, which describes the change in saturation vapor pressure due to a curved surface. At small radii, the amount of supersaturation needed for condensation to occur is so large, that it does not happen naturally. Raoult's law describes how the vapor pressure is dependent on the amount of solute in a solution. At high concentrations, when the cloud droplets are small, the supersaturation required is smaller than without the presence of a nucleus.

Rime ice

Rime ice forms when supercooled water liquid droplets freeze onto surfaces. Meteorologists distinguish between three basic types of ice forming on vertical and horizontal surfaces by deposition of supercooled water droplets. There are also intermediate formations.

Nucleation step of self-assembly, including crystallization

Nucleation is the first step in the formation of either a new thermodynamic phase or a new structure via self-assembly or self-organization. Nucleation is typically defined to be the process that determines how long an observer has to wait before the new phase or self-organized structure appears. For example, if a volume of water is cooled below 0° C, it will tend to freeze into ice. Volumes of water cooled only a few degrees below 0° C often stay completely free of ice for long periods. At these conditions, nucleation of ice is either slow or does not occur at all. However, at lower temperatures ice crystals appear after little or no delay. At these conditions ice nucleation is fast. Nucleation is commonly how first-order phase transitions start, and then it is the start of the process of forming a new thermodynamic phase. By contrast, new phases at continuous phase transitions start to form immediately.

The Wegener–Bergeron–Findeisen process, is a process of ice crystal growth that occurs in mixed phase clouds in regions where the ambient vapor pressure falls between the saturation vapor pressure over water and the lower saturation vapor pressure over ice. This is a subsaturated environment for liquid water but a supersaturated environment for ice resulting in rapid evaporation of liquid water and rapid ice crystal growth through vapor deposition. If the number density of ice is small compared to liquid water, the ice crystals can grow large enough to fall out of the cloud, melting into rain drops if lower level temperatures are warm enough.

Graupel, also called soft hail or snow pellets, is precipitation that forms when supercooled water droplets are collected and freeze on falling snowflakes, forming 2–5 mm (0.08–0.20 in) balls of rime. The term graupel comes from the German language.

Clear ice means a solid precipitation which forms when air temperature is between 0 °C (32 °F) and −3 °C (27 °F) and there are supercooled, relatively large drops of water. A rapid accretion and a slow dissipation of latent heat of fusion favor the formation of a transparent ice coating, without air or other impurities. A similar phenomenon occurs when freezing rain or drizzle hit a surface and is called glaze. Clear ice, when formed on the ground, is often called black ice, and can be extremely hazardous.

Precipitation types

In meteorology, the various types of precipitation often include the character or phase of the precipitation which is falling to ground level. There are three distinct ways that precipitation can occur. Convective precipitation is generally more intense, and of shorter duration, than stratiform precipitation. Orographic precipitation occurs when moist air is forced upwards over rising terrain, such as a mountain.

Ice nucleus

An ice nucleus is a particle which acts as the nucleus for the formation of an ice crystal in the atmosphere.

References

  1. Spence, Charles F. (2006). Aim/Far. McGraw Hill Professional. p. 294. ISBN   9780071479240 . Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 Rauber, Robert M; Walsh, John E; Charlevoix, Donna Jean (2012). Severe & Hazardous Weather. ISBN   9780757597725.
  3. "Freezing Drizzle on January 26th; A Look Into Why". National Weather Service. Retrieved 10 December 2017.