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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published March 26 2013

Weather Talk: Several factors important for ideal melting of snow

The temperatures are finally about to start going above the freezing mark, but there are a variety of factors besides the air temperature that affect snow melt. As long as the ground is mostly snow-covered, the snow will continue to reflect most of the sunlight, keeping the weather much cooler than it would be without snow. Also, weather in which snow melts during the day but refreezes at night slows things down considerably.

Humidity has a tremendous effect. If the air is dry, a lot of the melting snow is evaporated, but it takes a lot of energy to evaporate water, which actually cools a lot of the melted snow back below freezing. In high humidity, the snow melts and is able to remain as water.

These factors all came together in March 2010 when a dense snowpack was quickly melted by a week of foggy weather in the 30s day and night. For a nice, slow melt, ideal weather would be low humidity, mild days with chilly nights and as little rainfall as possible.

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