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Why does it snow?

January 30, 2002

Why does it snow?



The right combination of conditions has to exist for snow to happen:

There must be a source of moisture at a cold enough temperature - freezing or below freezing.

Water vapor condenses and freezes around one of the trillions of microscopic particles - dust, mineral, specks of industrial debris - in the air. Snow crystals are formed.

There has to be some sort of lifting mechanism - a cold front.

An upper air disturbance , a swirl in the atmosphere, also is needed.

The temperature - from the top of the clouds where crystals are formed, to here on earth - must be low enough.

Sources: Calvin Meadows, Meteorologist, National Weather Service; Ken Pickering, Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland, College Park

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