What causes mixed precipitation during winter storms - WBNG.com: Binghamton-area News, Weather, Sports

What causes mixed precipitation during winter storms

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(WBNG) -- The Twin Tiers saw some mixed precipitation with Wednesday's snow storm, switching from snow to sleet to freezing rain and then back to snow

This is a quick explanation of the kind of atmospheric setup that can cause mixed wintry precipitation.

For snow, the atmosphere is cold from top to bottom, so that snowflake starts as snow and ends up on the ground as snow.

Then as sleet develops, there's a little bit of warm air in the middle and upper part of our lower atmosphere, so that snowflake can melt into a raindrop and then re-freeze, turning into an ice ball and hits the ground as sleet.

Now, if there's a lot of warm air to where most of the atmosphere is warm above the surface, precipitation falls as all rain before entering a small pocket of below freezing temperatures, which supercools that water droplet so that when it lands on any below freezing surfaces, it causes ice accretion as freezing rain.

When our atmosphere is warm from top to bottom, raindrops fall as all rain.

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