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Old 12-12-2008, 09:47 AM
 
Location: West Yellowstone, MT
239 posts, read 420,893 times
Reputation: 119

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FYI

METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY

One phrase that is heard from time to time is that, "it is too cold to snow today". In actuality, earth's troposphere is not too cold to snow but rather it is "too dynamically stable to snow". Dynamic stability may be present due to low-level cold air advection, a lack of upper level divergence, and/or a lack of low level convergence. Also, if dynamic lifting does occur it may not produce precipitation that reaches the surface due to low relative humidity values in the lower troposphere.

The ingredients for snow are: (1) a temperature profile that allows snow to reach the surface, (2) saturated air, and (3) enough lifting of that saturated air to allow snow to develop aloft and fall to reach the surface. In a situation when it is said "it is too cold to snow" there is in reality not enough lifting of air that causes snow to reach the surface.

The phrase "it is too cold to snow today" 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.

Even at very cold surface temperatures significant snowfall can occur because: (1) intense lifting can produce significant precipitation even at a very low temperature, (2) the temperature aloft can be much warmer than the temperature at the surface. The relatively warmer air aloft can have a larger moisture content than air in the PBL, (3) Moisture advection can continue to bring a renewed supply of moisture into a region where lifting is occurring, (4) Even at very cold temperatures the air always has a capacity to have some water vapor.

If the air cools to truly frigid Arctic temperatures such as -40 C and below then the moisture capacity of the air will be so low that likely not much snow can occur. Only at these extremely low temperatures is the phrase "it is too cold to snow" fairly valid.

At the temperature of absolute zero ( 0 K, -273 C, -459 F) all air including water vapor condenses and loses all molecular energy. The temperature can not cool below absolute zero.

The ultimate weather education website: WEATHER PREDICTION EDUCATION
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:58 AM
 
Location: In an alternate universe according to some, AKA Aspergers
10,721 posts, read 11,903,496 times
Reputation: 5289
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Doer View Post
FYI

METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY

One phrase that is heard from time to time is that, "it is too cold to snow today". In actuality, earth's troposphere is not too cold to snow but rather it is "too dynamically stable to snow". Dynamic stability may be present due to low-level cold air advection, a lack of upper level divergence, and/or a lack of low level convergence. Also, if dynamic lifting does occur it may not produce precipitation that reaches the surface due to low relative humidity values in the lower troposphere.

The ingredients for snow are: (1) a temperature profile that allows snow to reach the surface, (2) saturated air, and (3) enough lifting of that saturated air to allow snow to develop aloft and fall to reach the surface. In a situation when it is said "it is too cold to snow" there is in reality not enough lifting of air that causes snow to reach the surface.

The phrase "it is too cold to snow today" 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.

Even at very cold surface temperatures significant snowfall can occur because: (1) intense lifting can produce significant precipitation even at a very low temperature, (2) the temperature aloft can be much warmer than the temperature at the surface. The relatively warmer air aloft can have a larger moisture content than air in the PBL, (3) Moisture advection can continue to bring a renewed supply of moisture into a region where lifting is occurring, (4) Even at very cold temperatures the air always has a capacity to have some water vapor.

If the air cools to truly frigid Arctic temperatures such as -40 C and below then the moisture capacity of the air will be so low that likely not much snow can occur. Only at these extremely low temperatures is the phrase "it is too cold to snow" fairly valid.

At the temperature of absolute zero ( 0 K, -273 C, -459 F) all air including water vapor condenses and loses all molecular energy. The temperature can not cool below absolute zero.

The ultimate weather education website: WEATHER PREDICTION EDUCATION
Thanks for the info, very interesting!
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Old 12-12-2008, 08:03 PM
 
Location: In The Outland
6,038 posts, read 6,864,914 times
Reputation: 3535
A fun little trick to entertain kids when it's wayyyyy below zero, is to take a mug of hot water outside (when it is NOT snowing) and toss the water into the air. The water atomizes and freezes at the same time and you can make your own snow ! The little ones love it.
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Old 12-13-2008, 08:14 AM
 
Location: In an alternate universe according to some, AKA Aspergers
10,721 posts, read 11,903,496 times
Reputation: 5289
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickers View Post
A fun little trick to entertain kids when it's wayyyyy below zero, is to take a mug of hot water outside (when it is NOT snowing) and toss the water into the air. The water atomizes and freezes at the same time and you can make your own snow ! The little ones love it.
The way it's blowing now if I did that it'd fall somewhere over Kalispell or Polson
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Old 12-13-2008, 08:41 AM
 
Location: SW Montana
352 posts, read 710,740 times
Reputation: 226
Fairly heavy snow and wind here. My bride and I got busy after I got home from work and split the rest of the big rounds we had stacked by the house and got 'em in the woodshed. The place is ready for winter, and we're getting it this morning. Odd wind pattern to start - shifting quite a lot since 4 a.m. Blew snow in places it normally never does.
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