The coming spring snow will probably not stay long | New
ROCKFORD (WREX) – The Upper Midwest is no stranger to snow during the spring months, but the differences between winter snow and spring snow are stark.
Composition of winter snow compared to spring snow:
To get an idea of ââthe biggest differences between seasonal snows, you have to look at the composition of snowflakes. Winter snows tend to precede cold air blasts. Temperatures are everything when it comes to winter precipitation. Cooler temperatures generally correspond to lower humidity, especially in what meteorologists call the “dendritic growth zone” or DGZ. This layer of the atmosphere exists between about 10,000 and 20,000 feet above the Earth’s surface and is the region in which snow “grows”.
When temperatures are cold and humidity is low, falling snow will be fluffy and dry in nature. This allows the snow to accumulate quickly because it is not compacted. In the spring, temperatures are generally a little warmer on the surface and humidity levels tend to be higher in the DGZ. The result is snow that tends to have a much higher moisture content and a greater chance of melting when hitting the surface.
Ground temperatures make a huge difference:
This should come as no surprise, but during the winter months the temperatures on the ground are quite cold. This goes a long way in allowing snow to fall and stick to the ground. Of course, the longer the snow accumulates, the colder the temperatures on the ground, resulting in the subsequent snowfall and accumulation.
In the spring, warming temperatures lead to high ground temperatures, making accumulated snowfall a little harder to linger. This does not necessarily mean that snow cannot accumulate during the spring months, especially if the snowfall is heavy enough.
The spring sun angle is much higher:
One of the big differences between winter snows and their spring cousin is the angle of the sun. Consider this concrete example:
âSix inches of snow fell on the night of January 15. Under a sunny sky, the air temperature on the afternoon of January 16 was 32 Â°. Three months later, on the night of April 15, six inches of snow is falling. Under sunny skies, the air temperature on the afternoon of April 16 is 32 Â° C. Will the snow in each scenario also melt? “
The above question is an actual question from a meteorological textbook. While to meteorologists the answer may seem obvious, to others it may not be so obvious. All elements of the problem in question are equal, but the difference here is in the angle of the sun.
A higher solar angle during the spring months allows faster sublimation of snow into vapor, thus eliminating the pesky snow that falls in late spring. Whether you love the snow or are up for warmer weather, enjoy it while it lasts. Soon the heat and humidity of summer will have us all wishing for some cold relief.