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 - December 16, 2018, 11:53:53 AM EST
Residents of northern Queensland endured a second and more severe strike by former-Tropical Cyclone Owen.
Weather News - December 16, 2018, 2:48:23 PM EST
As students embark on winter break, last-minute shoppers head to the stores and holiday travel ramps up across the country later this week, a major storm could lead to widespread travel headaches in the eastern U.S.
Weather News - December 16, 2018, 10:53:37 AM EST
Severe Cyclonic Storm Phethai in the Bay of Bengal to move into eastern India early in the week bringing damaging winds and flooding rainfall.
Weather News - December 16, 2018, 11:44:25 AM EST
Cold air diving into the northeastern United States to start the new week will be accompanied by gusty winds, snow and the threat for slippery travel.
Weather News - December 16, 2018, 4:47:25 PM EST
Storm Deirdre caused travel hazards, power outages and disruptions this weekend across the United Kingdom.
Weather News - December 16, 2018, 2:43:44 PM EST
Large storms and cold air are likely to take a break over much of the nation during much of the week ahead of the Christmas holiday.
Weather News - December 16, 2018, 5:40:13 AM EST
A storm will continue to bring rain, fog, ice and a wintry mix to parts of the northeastern United States this weekend.
Weather News - December 16, 2018, 11:19:46 AM EST
Rain, wind, mountain snow and rough surf will lash the Northwest and California through Sunday night as the barrage of Pacific storms continues.