The different conditions to form rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow

Weather News

SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) — Wintry weather is in the forecast late Saturday night and Sunday. Rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow are all a possibility depending on where you are.

It’s not just what’s happening at the surface that determines the precipitation type. What matters more, is what’s happening high in the sky.

All precipitation starts high in the atmosphere where it’s all frozen. Its state when it hits the ground depends on the temperature of the air it falls through.

With rain, the frozen precipitation melts in a thick layer of warm air and reaches the surface as a liquid.

Freezing rain happens when any frozen precipitation melts in warm air. However, a shallow layer of cold air near the surface causes the rain to freeze on contact with cold surfaces.

Sleet happens when the frozen precipitation melts in a shallow layer of warm air but refreezes partially before hitting the ground as the layer of cold air near the surface is thicker than with freezing rain.

Last but not least, snowfalls when the entire column of air is at or below freezing, and therefore reaches the surface as flakes.

All this winter weather talk has more locals buying their Christmas trees.

“I had a great growing season. They look beautiful. I got a lot of fertilizer down on them, and, spent the whole summer and the spring working on making sure they’re beautiful — I’m a perfectionist, so just about every single one of my trees out there is as pretty as they possibly can be,” Susan Lopes, the owner of Paul Bunyan’s Farm and Nursery, told 22News.

Rain and snowfall in the month of December are meant to fall close to average, and the rest of winter as well.

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