Too Cold to Snow?
By By Adrienne Green
December 13, 2013, 9:33:05 AM EST
A question meteorologist get asked all the time during the cold winter months is "can it ever be too cold to snow"? Well, the short answer is no.
The ingredients for snow are:
1. A temperature profile that allows snow to reach the surface
2. Saturated air
3. Enough lifting of that saturated air to allow snow to develop aloft and fall to reach the surface
The phrase "it’s too cold to snow" probably originated as a misapplication of the relationship between temperature and the maximum amount of water vapor that can be in the air. When temperature decreases, the maximum capacity of water vapor that can be in the air decreases. Therefore, the colder it gets the less water vapor there will be in the air.
Most heavy snowfalls happen with relatively warm air temperatures near the ground -- usually at 15 degrees F or above. When the temperature drops into the single digits, or below zero, heavy snow is unlikely. That’s not because it’s too cold, but because its too dry. When temperatures are that low, the air’s capacity for water vapor becomes very small.
Experts say only at absolute zero would snow become impossible. Along with everything else.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - May 26, 2019, 4:00:58 PM EDT
It will be no rest for the weary across the central United States as lives and property will continue to be threatened by severe weather and flooding this Memorial Day holiday weekend and into Tuesday.
Weather News - May 27, 2019, 1:00:09 AM EDT
Following the announcement that Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort will stay open into August, more mountain snow is falling as a rare May storm sweeps across California.
Weather News - May 26, 2019, 9:13:47 PM EDT
At least one person is dead after a powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Amazon rainforest in north-central Peru on Sunday morning.
Weather News - May 26, 2019, 7:58:08 PM EDT
In addition to disrupting outdoor activities over the holiday weekend, thunderstorms will continue to bring lightning dangers and the risk of damage across the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic into Sunday evening.
Weather News - May 27, 2019, 12:59:03 AM EDT
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer and sweltering heat will have a firm grip on the Southeast beyond the extended holiday weekend.
Weather News - May 26, 2019, 11:33:00 AM EDT
The hottest weather in recent years helped fuel several dangerous wildfires across Israel late last week.
Weather News - May 26, 2019, 2:47:28 PM EDT
At least two people are dead and 29 others injured after a tornado caused extensive damage in El Reno, Oklahoma, late Saturday night.