|SNOW TO LIQUID EQUIVALENT
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
The snow to liquid equivalent is the amount of liquid precipitation that is produced after melting snow. The
temperature profile of the troposphere and the surface temperature are important factors that determine this value.
The "average" snow to liquid ratio is 10:1. This is saying that if 10 inches of snow fell and that snow was melted
it would produce 1 inch of liquid precipitation in the rain gauge.
WET SNOW WITH ABOVE FREEZING GROUND- Wet snow is snow that has a high liquid content as it reaches the surface. It
needs to be at least 50% made of ice or it will have more characteristics of being a raindrop instead of a snowflake. It
gets this liquid content by partially melting before it hits the ground. The wetness of the snowflakes makes it
easier for snowflakes to stick together as they fall, thus a wet snow will often have large snowflakes and a lower
number of snowflakes. If the ground temperature is above freezing the snow flakes will continue melting. In these
situations a snow event can occur but with no snow accumulates on the ground.
WET SNOW WITH AT OR BELOW FREEZING GROUND- It this situation the snow will accumulate on the ground. This is the best
situation for producing snow where the making of snowballs is the easiest. The snow is sticky due to its high partial
liquid content. The ratio for wet snow will be less than 10:1. For example, a 5:1 ratio may occur in which it
takes 5 inches of snow to produce 1 inch of liquid equivalent.
DRY SNOW- A dry snow has little to no liquid water content thus this snow will be less dense than average. Less dense
meaning there will be a lot of air pockets between the snow crystals. Dry snow
is not sticky and thus it is difficult to make snowballs with it and the wind blows it around substantially even
after reaching the surface. The ratio for dry snow will be greater than 10:1. In extreme cases it can be 30:1 or
greater. Dry snow occurs when the temperatures throughout the troposphere are well below freezing and the surface
temperature is below freezing. Since dry snowflakes are less sticky they are less inclined to stick together as they
fall, thus a dry snow will often be composed of a large number of small snowflakes.
For further discussion, refer to the following website below:
The ultimate weather education website: http://www.theweatherprediction.com/