Cause and Effect of Snow

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The wonders of snow

Have you ever wondered what happens in the environment or the air around you for the process of the small white flakes of snow to fall around you? Also the reasons why snow may fall during the winter in the northern areas of the United States, but rarely falls in the areas further to the South? For the next few minutes I will explain the different types of elements needed to cause snow.

Snow is usually the result of the warm air associated with an extra tropical cyclone flowing up and over the cold air surrounding part of the cyclone. The air being lifted, combined with the abundant water vapor available from the warm air mass the rising air originates from, causes clouds to form The cloud water (or cloud ice) is collected by falling ice particles, which grow as the super-cooled cloud water freezes onto them. (Even at temperatures as low as -40 degrees F, tiny cloud water droplets remain liquid, until they become attached to an ice particle, and then they freeze.) The ice particles also grow as some of the water vapor in the surrounding air collects and freezes on them. The falling ice particles in the clouds grow and combine together to become so large (called aggregates) that their fall speed exceeds the upward flowing air speed in the clouds. This action causes the aggregates to fall out the bottom of the cloud, reaching the ground if they do not re-evaporate. The more water vapor there is available to the cloud, and the stronger the updrafts that cause this water vapor to condense into cloud water or ice particles, the more likelyit is that snow will form within the cloud, and that the snowfall accumulation could be large.

So, a cold, cloudy day with now snow indicates that there is either not enough water vapor available to the cloud, or that the rising motion creating the cloud is not enough to cause snow (or both). A heavy snowfall results from abundant water vapor combined with strong and persistent rising motion...
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