6 Storm Team Winter Weather Outlook: Types of Winter Precipitation

Winter Forecast

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – There are four main types of winter precipitation that we see in East Tennessee. Although snow is the main weather type that gets people excited, sleet, rain and freezing rain can be especially dangerous as well.

Rain begins as snow high in the atmosphere. This snow falls through a large layer of air above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This causes the snow to melt and fall to the ground as rain.

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When there is a layer of air above 32 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of the atmosphere and a shallow layer of cold air near the ground (below 32 degrees Fahrenheit), freezing rain forms. Freezing rain begins as snow that melts and then refreezes when it encounters the cold surface.

Sleet occurs when the freezing layer (below 32 degrees Fahrenheit) near the ground is larger (extends further up in the atmosphere) than it does in the case of freezing rain. This causes the rain that results from the warm layer to refreeze into ice pellets before hitting the ground. Sleet is ice pellets.

Snow occurs when the entire layer, from cloud to ground is below freezing!

Follow our WATE 6 Storm Team on Twitter: Victoria Cavaliere, @watevictoriawx; Matt Hinkin, @Hinkmologist; Justin Kiefer, @justinkieferwx; and Ken Weathers, @lucky13wxman. Also, follow @WATEWeather.

(The story is part of a WATE 6 Storm Team in-depth look at this coming winter with forecasts, cold weather tips and the science behind storms in a package of reports.)

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