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Daryl Ritchison, WDAY, Published November 26 2013

Weather Talk: Snow can disappear even if temps are below freezing

We have had several very light snows this season with only one of them, the 0.2 of an inch measured Friday, having been enough to completely cover flat surfaces. Those two-tenths of an inch eventually melted with the warmer weather Sunday, but previous to that, the other light snow recorded in Fargo-Moorhead disappeared with temperatures staying below 32 degrees.

How is that possible? Sublimation is the process of a solid (snow) transitioning to a gas (water vapor), without first going through the liquid phase (melting). Sublimation occurs all winter, but the amount of snow lost through this process is minimal, and it generally goes unnoticed, especially once a deeper snowpack overtakes the region. But when snow amounts are exceptionally light, then this subtle loss of snow on the ground or on your driveway can be quite noticeable.

The opposite of sublimation is deposition, and that is the process of a gas changing to a solid and is the method in which frost forms during our cold season.


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