Is It Ever Too Cold To Snow?

sledding

Having withstood a few snowy Midwestern winters in our time, were not sure we are not sure if we want to test this hypothesis personally.  Luckily, meteorologists have.
No, it never gets too cold to snow, but at extremely low temperatures the amount of snow accumulation on the ground is likely to be must likely to be much lower than at 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  According Raymond E. Falconer, at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, SCNY at Albany, there is so little water level available at subzero temperatures that snow takes the shape of tiny ice crystals, which have little volume and do not have deep piles.  But at warmer temperatures more water vapor is available, “so the crystal grow larger and create snowflakes which are agglomerate of ice crystals.” The warmer the temperature is the larger the snowflake becomes.
What determines the size of the initial snow crystals? It depends upon the distribution of temperature and moisture from the ground up to the cloud base.  If snow forming at a high level drops into much dryer air below, the result may be no accumulation whatsoever. In the condition known as “virga,” streaks of ice particles fall from the base of the cloud but evaporate completely before hitting the ground.

From: When do fish sleep? by: David Feldman


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