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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published March 13 2013

Weather Talk: Temperature of snow will soon reach melting point

There have been many days recently with temperatures below freezing during which a lot of melted snow could be seen pooling on sidewalks and streets.

This time of year, the higher sun angle allows the sun’s rays to strike more directly. Since different things absorb sunlight differently, it is common for some surfaces to warm more than the air, causing melt water that usually refreezes at night. However, over the general snowpack, there is little or no melting when the air is below 32 degrees. The white snow reflects most of those sun rays, and what little snow is melted is immediately cooled by the presence of so much snow that it refreezes.

Even on days when the air is above freezing, this process is still occurring. This is why March snow cover tends to change from flakes to granules. Gradually, over the next two or three weeks, the temperature of the snow will warm to near 32 degrees and then melting can take place more rapidly.


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