Sleet, freezing rain and snow: What's the difference?

Sleet, freezing rain and snow: What's the difference?

Sleet, freezing rain and snow: What's the difference?

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by ALBERT RAMON / KVUE Weather and JORDAN ARMSTRONG / KVUE.com

Bio | Email | Follow: @AlbertR_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on February 5, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 6 at 6:38 AM

With light freezing drizzle and flurries possible for Austin Thursday and Friday, slick spots on bridges and overpasses are likely.

With the wild winter we've had, many viewers are wondering what the difference is between sleet, freezing rain and snow.

Rain: When nearly the entire atmosphere is above 32°, we get rain. 

Freezing rain: Occurs when a shallow layer of below freezing temperatures is at the surface. So freezing rain will always fall from the sky as liquid, but because surface temperatures are at or below freezing, that liquid will quickly freeze into a glaze of ice.

Sleet: Occurs when there is a shallow layer of warm air in the mid levels of the atmosphere.  So the precipitation will likely fall from the base of the cloud as frozen, then melt, then refreeze before it hits the surface. Sleet will fall to the surface as ice pellets.

 

Snow: If the entire profile of the atmosphere is at or below 32°, you get snow! Snow is rare in Central Texas, mainly because of our geography. We are too far south to see this winter weather setup often, and even when we do, the upper level winds are typically out of the southwest allowing for warmer air to sneak in. 

 

Go here for tips on keeping your property safe during freezing weather.

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