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Blowin' in the Wind, Issue #073 Winter in the air for a little while yet - Feb 1, 2010
January 26, 2010
Hello ,

Winter in the air :
What About this Weather?

It is that time of year, yes winter in the air, when many of us still see short days, the sun shines less bright, the winds remains chilled and the temperatures have dropped. These are all the signs that winter is with us.

Winter is not determined by a date on the calendar. Even though there is a specific date each year when it is said to be the beginning of winter, depending on where you live, winter may come earlier or later.

Snow air: How to Tell Winter Is On Its Way

There are some tell tale signs that a winter storm is brewing. One of the first things you will notice is how much colder the air feels. The temperatures drop and the winds start biting at you, making any exposed skin tingle. The second thing you will notice is increased cloud cover in many regions, coupled with increased winds. These two things work together. The blowing wind whips up the moisture that is needed to form clouds and produce precipitation.

The last thing that points to winter in the air may not be something that you can see, but if you watch the evening weather forecast and look at the radar you will see something called lift. Lift is when cold and warm air streams collide. This is what causes severe storms and is called a cold front. When these three things happen the stage is set for a great winter storm.

Types of Winter Precipitation

During the winter precipitation ranges greatly. There are different types of snow, freezing rain and sleet. All of these things create the winter conditions that we associate with winter.

Snow is perhaps the most well-known form of precipitation that we associate with winter. There are actually several different types of snow, depending on how much is falling.

Flurries are a light snow that falls for a short period of time. It does not produce a lot of accumulation on the ground.

Snow showers vary in intensity from light to heavier and like flurries they last for short periods of time. Accumulation is usually light.

Squalls are snow showers that are quite heavy but only last for a brief period of time. They include strong wind gusts and can result in a significant amount of accumulation.

Blowing snow is not actually snowfall, but rather accumulated snow being blown by strong winds. The winds can whip up the snow causing visibility problems and drifting.

The most intense snow storm, we call a blizzard. Blizzards storms may include blowing snow, but one is characterized by strong wind gusts that blow snow and reduce visibility to almost zero. And technical definitions of a blizzard, separating them from mere snowstorms, vary with geography.

Besides snow, we can have sleet, basically rain that freezes into pellets of ice before it hits the ground. It does not stick, but can accumulate like snow.

Freezing rain also occurs in winter. It freezes when it hits the ground because the ground temperatures are below freezing. When freezing rain happens it can cover everything in a layer of ice.

When winter comes around (or lingers) it usually is no surprise. Most people get used to welcoming winter in the air every year around the same time. Winter can be unpredictable, with so many varying conditions that can occur. However, it can also be beautiful. A fresh layer of new snow can be breath taking as it sparkles in the morning sun and even a layer of ice glistening on the tree limbs can be an amazing sight to behold.

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