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Rain and snow mixed is precipitation composed of rain and partially melted snow. Unlike ice pellets, which are hard, and freezing rain, which is fluid until striking an object, this precipitation is soft and translucent, but it contains some traces of ice crystals, from partially fused snowflakes. In any one location, it usually occurs briefly as a transition phase from rain to snow or vice versa. Its METAR code is RASN.
Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth. It provides suitable conditions for many types of ecosystems, as well as water for hydroelectric power plants and crop irrigation.
Snow refers to forms of ice crystals that precipitate from the atmosphere and undergo changes on the Earth's surface. It pertains to frozen crystalline water throughout its life cycle, starting when, under suitable conditions, the ice crystals form in the atmosphere, increase to millimeter size, precipitate and accumulate on surfaces, then metamorphose in place, and ultimately melt, slide or sublimate away. Snowstorms organize and develop by feeding on sources of atmospheric moisture and cold air. Snowflakes nucleate around particles in the atmosphere by attracting supercooled water droplets, which freeze in hexagonal-shaped crystals. Snowflakes take on a variety of shapes, basic among these are platelets, needles, columns and rime. As snow accumulates into a snowpack, it may blow into drifts. Over time, accumulated snow metamorphoses, by sintering, sublimation and freeze-thaw. Where the climate is cold enough for year-to-year accumulation, a glacier may form. Otherwise, snow typically melts seasonally, causing runoff into streams and rivers and recharging groundwater.
Ice pellets are a form of precipitation consisting of small, translucent balls of ice. Ice pellets are smaller than hailstones which form in thunderstorms rather than in winter, and are different from graupel which is made of frosty white rime, and from a mixture of rain and snow which is a slushy liquid or semisolid. Ice pellets often bounce when they hit the ground or other solid objects, and make a higher-pitched "tap" when striking objects like jackets, windshields, and dried leaves, compared to the dull splat of liquid raindrops. Pellets generally do not freeze into a solid mass unless mixed with freezing rain. The METAR code for ice pellets is PL.
This precipitation type is commonly known as sleet in most Commonwealth countries,including Canada. However, the United States National Weather Service uses the term sleet to refer to ice pellets.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is an agency of the United States federal government that is tasked with providing weather forecasts, warnings of hazardous weather, and other weather-related products to organizations and the public for the purposes of protection, safety, and general information. It is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) branch of the Department of Commerce, and is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, within the Washington metropolitan area. The agency was known as the United States Weather Bureau from 1890 until it adopted its current name in 1970.
This precipitation occurs when the temperature in the lowest part of the atmosphere is slightly above the freezing point of water (0 °C or 32 °F). The depth of low-level warm air (below the freezing level) needed to melt snow falling from above to rain varies from about 230–460 m (750–1,500 ft) and depends on the mass of the flakes and the lapse rate of the melting layer. Rain and snow typically mix when the melting layer depth falls between these values.
Temperature is a physical quantity expressing hot and cold. It is measured with a thermometer calibrated in one or more temperature scales. The most commonly used scales are the Celsius scale, Fahrenheit scale, and Kelvin scale. The kelvin is the unit of temperature in the International System of Units (SI), in which temperature is one of the seven fundamental base quantities. The Kelvin scale is widely used in science and technology.
Wintry showers is a somewhat informal meteorological term, used primarily in the United Kingdom, to refer to various mixtures of rain, graupel and snow. Though no "official" criteria exist for the term, in the United Kingdom the term is not used when any significant accumulation of snow on the ground takes place. It is often used when the temperature of the ground surface is above 0 °C (32 °F), preventing accumulation from occurring even if the air temperature is marginally below 0 °C (32 °F); but even then, the falling precipitation must generally be something other than exclusively snow.
The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
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.
In the United States, wintry mix generally refers to a mixture of freezing rain, ice pellets, and snow. 0 °C (32 °F). Additionally, it is generally used when some accumulation of ice and snow is expected to occur. During winter, a wide area can be affected by the multiple precipitation types typical of a wintry mix during a single winter storm, as counter-clockwise winds around a storm system bring warm air northwards ahead of the system, and then bring cold air back southwards behind it. Most often, it is the region ahead of the approaching storm system which sees the wintry mix, as warm air moves northward and above retreating cold air, causing snow to change to ice pellets, freezing rain and finally rain. The reverse transition can occur behind the departing low pressure system, though it is more common for precipitation to change directly from rain to snow, or for it to stop before a transition back.In contrast to the usage in the United Kingdom, in the United States it is usually used when air and ground temperatures are below
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.
Sleet is a regionally variant term for two distinct forms of precipitation:
An ice storm is a type of winter storm characterized by freezing rain, also known as a glaze event or, in some parts of the United States, as a silver thaw. The U.S. National Weather Service defines an ice storm as a storm which results in the accumulation of at least 0.25-inch (6.4 mm) of ice on exposed surfaces. From 1982 to 1994, ice storms were more common than blizzards in the U.S., averaging 16 per year. They are generally not violent storms but instead are commonly perceived as gentle rains occurring at temperatures just below freezing.
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.
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."
Thundersnow, also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thundersnowstorm, is an unusual kind of thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain. It typically falls in regions of strong upward motion within the cold sector of an extratropical cyclone. Thermodynamically, it is not different from any other type of thunderstorm, but the top of the cumulonimbus cloud is usually quite low. In addition to snow, graupel or hail may fall.
A winter storm warning is a statement made by the National Weather Service of the United States which means a winter storm is occurring or is about to occur in the area, usually within 36 hours. Generally, a Winter Storm Warning is issued if the following criteria, at least, are forecast: usually between 4 inches (10 cm) to 7 inches (18 cm) or more of snow or usually 3 inches (7.6 cm) or more of snow with a large accumulation of ice. In the Southern United States, where severe winter weather is much less common and any snow is a more significant event, warning criteria are lower, as low as 1 inch (2.5 cm) in the southernmost areas: as one goes from north to south, the necessary accumulations lessen. A warning can also be issued during high impact events of lesser amounts, usually early or very late in the season when trees have leaves and damage can result. Winter Storm Warnings are issued when winds are less than 35mph; if the storm has winds above this wind speed, it becomes a blizzard warning.
A Winter Weather Advisory is issued by the National Weather Service of the United States when a low pressure system produces a combination of winter weather that presents a hazard, but does not meet warning criteria. A Winter Weather Advisory is similar to significant weather advisory, but a winter weather advisory is an official product. A similar warning is issued by Environment Canada's Meteorological Service of Canada offices.
An Ice Storm Warning is issued by the National Weather Service of the United States when freezing rain produces a significant and possibly damaging accumulation of ice. The criteria for this warning vary from state to state, but typically an ice storm warning will be issued any time more than 1⁄4 inch (6.4 mm) of ice is expected to accumulate in an area; in some areas, the criterion is 1⁄2 inch (13 mm).
This article describes severe weather terminology used by the National Weather Service (NWS) in the United States. The NWS, a government agency operating as an arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) branch of the United States Department of Commerce (DoC), defines precise meanings for nearly all of its weather terms. This article describes NWS terminology and related weather scales used by the agency. Some terms may be specific to certain cities or regions.
A historic snowstorm struck the Ohio Valley of the United States, as well as Ontario in Canada, on December 22 and December 23 and is not the same storm that led to snow in Texas on Christmas Eve. It lasted roughly 30 hours, and brought snowfall amounts up to 29 inches (74 cm) to portions of the Midwestern United States. Damages from the storm totaled US$900 million (2004 dollars). A total of 18 died during the storm, one from Canada, mainly due to car accidents.
It is very rare for snow to fall in the U.S. state of Florida, especially in the central and southern portions of the state. With the exception of the far northern areas of the state, most of the major cities in Florida have rarely recorded measurable snowfall, though trace (T) amounts have been widely recorded, or flurries observed a few times each century. According to the National Weather Service, in the Florida Keys and Key West there is no known occurrence of snow flurries since the settlement of the region. In the Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Palm Beach there is only one known report of snow flurries observed in January 1977.
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.
The climate of Allentown, Pennsylvania is classified as a humid continental climate. Allentown's warmest month is July with a daily average temperature of 73.4 °F (23.0 °C) and the coldest month being January with a daily average of 27.8 °F (−2.3 °C). The average precipitation of Allentown is 45.35 inches (1,152 mm) per year. Allentown occasionally has some severe weather, mostly thunderstorms and flooding. Winters can bring snow, with some years receiving very little of it while others seeing several major snowstorms. Winter also brings the more dangerous ice, sleet, and freezing rain, which has caused several traffic accidents over the years. Tropical storms and hurricanes occasionally survive up the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and cross into Pennsylvania. Storms such as Hurricane Ivan and more recently Hurricane Sandy have caused light to severe damage in the area.
The December 1969 nor'easter was a strong winter storm that mainly affected the Northeastern United States and southern Quebec between December 25 and December 28, 1969. The multi-faceted storm system included a tornado outbreak, record snow accumulations, a damaging ice storm, and flooding rains.
The 2013–14 North American winter refers to winter in North America as it occurred across the continent from late 2013 through early 2014. The winter of 2013–14 was one of the most significant for the United States, due in part to the breakdown of the polar vortex in November 2013, which allowed very cold air to travel down into the United States, leading to an extended period of very cold temperatures. The pattern continued mostly uninterrupted throughout the winter and numerous significant winter storms affected the Eastern United States, with the most notable one being a powerful winter storm that dumped ice and snow in the Southeast and Northeast in mid-February. Most of the cold weather abated by the end of March, though a few winter storms did affect the western portions of the U.S. towards the end of the winter.
The 2014–15 North American winter refers to winter in North America as it occurred across the continent from late 2014 through early 2015. While both the meteorological and astronomical definitions of winter involve the onset of winter occurring in December, many places in North America experienced their first wintry weather during mid November. A period of below-average temperatures affected much of the contiguous United States, and several records were broken. An early trace of snowfall was recorded in Arkansas. There were greater accumulations of snow across parts of Oklahoma as well. A quasi-permanent phenomenon referred to as the polar vortex may have been partly responsible for the cold weather. Temperatures in much of the United States dropped 15 to 35 °F below average by November 19 following a southward "dip" of the polar vortex into the eastern two-thirds of the country. The effects of this dip were widespread, bringing about temperatures as low as 28 °F (−2 °C) in Pensacola, Florida. Following a significant snowstorm there, Buffalo, New York received several feet of snow from November 17–21. During the 2014–15 winter season, Boston broke its all-time official seasonal 107.6-inch (2.73-meter) snowfall record from the winter of 1995–96, with a total snowfall record of 108.6 inches (2.76 m) as of March 15, 2015.
This glossary of meteorology is a list of terms and concepts relevant to meteorology and the atmospheric sciences, their sub-disciplines, and related fields.
Ice pellets: This is the term Canadians use to describe frozen rain drops which are five millimetres or less in diameter and bounce when they hit a hard surface. Americans call this sleet.