How does freezing rain occur?

February 24th, 2013 at 10:43 am by under Weather

A visual of how freezing rain occurs. Image Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign DAS

After freezing rain on Friday, and the potential for more with an incoming winter storm on Tuesday, I wanted to share this image and explainer of how freezing rain forms.  The image comes from one of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s weather web sites.  A more detailed explanation is provided there, along with other weather resources.

But, the basics are that as snow falls from a cloud down to the ground, it encounters air warm enough to melt it completely into liquid drops.  Then, as the drops continue to fall and get closer to the surface, they encounter a cold layer of air near the below freezing temperature ground and become “supercooled”.  When they hit the ground or other objects (cars, trees, power lines, etc…), the drops immediately freeze as ice.

For the latest on Tuesday’s incoming winter storm, click here for the latest forecast.


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