Winter Weather Awareness Week: Types of winter precipitation

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – Governor Jim Justice and the National Weather Service has declared this week to be winter weather awareness week. With winter just around the corner scenes snow covered trees and roads will start to become more common in the coming months. But snow isn’t the only type of winter precipitation we can experience.

In fact there are four different types of winter precipitation; rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Each of them start the same way as snowflakes inside the cloud where the temperature is below thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, but change based on the temperatures of the air in which the snowflakes encounter.

One of the most common types of precipitation is rain, which occurs when the snowflakes fall through a layer of warm air which causes the snow to melt into rain. Freezing rain works in a similar manner except the rain drops enter a small layer of air near the ground that is below freezing. This causes the rain drops to refreeze as they come into contact with objects on the ground. This creates icy roads and if the ice is heavy enough can bring down power lines and trees.

Sleet which are tiny ice pellets, occur when the snowflakes enter a warm section of air and melt, then enter a deep layer of freezing air which causes the rain drops to completely refreeze into ice. Sleet also creates slippery road conditions especially if the ice pellets aren’t completely frozen. Lastly, snow occurs when the air is below freezing throughout the atmosphere and the snowflakes stay in their original form.

Regardless of the type of winter weather we experience this year the National Weather Service recommends being prepared with a kit of essential items such as water, food, flashlights, and batteries. They also encourage everyone to check your local forecast before heading out the door.

To get the latest weather information check out the WOAY StormWatch Facebook page or the weather tab on our website.