Thank Goodness! It’s Never too Cold to Snow
I love snow, the more the better. I’m sure the people who live on the East coast would disagree especially those with flights that have been canceled due to the recent snowstorm. When cold temperatures are predicted some people think, “Good, at least we won’t get snow!” Many people are under the popular belief that there is a temperature at which it is too cold to snow but Tom Nehil gathered data for an article and it proves it is never too cold to snow.
While we may receive less snow the colder it gets it isn’t just because of the temperature but the other conditions that exist when the temperatures dip. Temperatures in the teens to 32 degrees are when we see the most snow accumulation and that’s because the certain conditions exist.
Kenny Blumenfeld from the MN DNR State Climatology Office shares the conditions and meteorological facts to explain the likelihood of snow.
- Physics of snowfall production. “The physics of snowfall production are optimized at temperatures below freezing but above zero (F). In terms of maximizing the amount of snowfall that you could get from a set amount of precipitation, the ‘sweet spot’ is basically in the teens. … If temperatures are outside of those ranges, you certainly can still get snow, but the processes are not nearly as efficient, and you get lesser accumulation rates.”
- Drier air. “Once you get to temperatures below zero, the air is naturally quite ‘dry,’ and it does not take much moisture to bring the relative humidity to 100%. Thus, even when you saturate the air at very cold temperatures, it still will not contain very much moisture. With scanty moisture and inefficient snowfall-production processes, you’re not going to get much snow.”
- High pressure. “Perhaps the most common reason people claim this is that when it’s very cold, we tend to have high pressure moving in. And high pressure means sinking air. Sinking air is hostile to precipitation processes (which require rising air). Moreover, the expanding pool of cold air tends to push the jet stream south, and the jet stream carries all of the interesting weather systems well to our south also. Those weather systems tend to have all the upward motions and whatnot required to produce precipitation and snowfall, so frequently if it’s cold, it’s not going to snow because the air is sinking and because the jet stream/storm track is so far away from us.”
Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!