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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published October 23 2012

Weather Talk: Impossible to determine how much snow could have fallen

The late autumn timing of last week’s heavy rainstorm caused many people to wonder how much snow we would have gotten from that storm had the weather been cold enough. The classic way to answer this question is to use the standard snow to water conversion rate of about 10 or 12-to-1. This suggests that our inch and a half of rain would have yielded between 15 to 18 inches of snow.

But the science here is not correct. When temperatures are too warm for snow, as they were last week, the water content in the clouds can be much higher, meaning there is much more moisture available to make rain. It is impossible to determine how much snow would have fallen last week had it been colder, because had it been colder, there would have been less moisture, and so less precipitation.

Also, last week’s storm had blizzard-force winds, which would have broken up the snow crystals into a fine powder, reducing the depth

of accumulation.


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