Mak­ing sense of a messy weather mix

South Shore Breaker - - Events - CINDY DAY WEATHER BY DAY weath­er­[email protected]­er­by­

It hap­pens ev­ery year at about this time.

The elu­sive rain/snow line does a dance over the re­gion and we’re left with a sloppy mix of rain, snow and the oth­ers.

What are the oth­ers and how do they dif­fer?

Well, let me start with the most danger­ous type of pre­cip­i­ta­tion — freez­ing rain.

Freez­ing rain forms when the layer of cold air close to the ground is very shal­low.

The rain­drops that fall from the cloud don’t have time to change to ice be­fore they reach the ground.

The droplets be­come su­per­cooled — mean­ing they re­main in a liq­uid state be­low 0 C. Those rain­drops freeze when they come into con­tact with cold ob­jects on or near the ground. As the name im­plies, it is freez­ing but not frozen.

If you hear ice tap­ping on the win­dow, then you’re not get­ting freez­ing rain.

That takes us to ice pel­lets; they can make quite a racket on the win­dow.

Ice pel­lets are small, translu­cent balls of ice. They are smaller than hail­stones, which fall from thun­der­storms.

Ice pel­lets form when the layer of cold air (be­low freez­ing) close to the ground ex­tends up­ward far enough so that rain­drops that fall from the cloud freeze into lit­tle balls of ice be­fore reach­ing the ground.

Ice pel­lets of­ten bounce when they hit the ground or other solid ob­jects and make a higher-pitched tap sound when strik­ing ob­jects like jack­ets, wind­shields and dried leaves.

I’d like to say that we won’t get any more of ei­ther, but I’d be fib­bing!


When sea­sons col­lide: ice pel­lets cover the deck fol­low­ing a fall storm and a messy mix of weather.

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