Freezing rain, sleet and snow - it's what an Indiana winter is made of

Posted at 2:53 PM, Nov 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-12 14:53:24-05

We’ve already had a test run of adjusting to cold temperatures. Now, it’s time to make sure we’re all prepared for what winter may bring to Indiana.  

This is Winter Weather Preparedness Week. The National Weather Service says, “The purpose of the campaign is to remind Indiana citizens of winter’s hazards, how to stay safe, and to educate everyone about preparedness.” 
We’ll get things started with a refresher on the types of winter precipitation we deal with in the Hoosier State.
The type of weather we experience on the ground is actually determined by the temperature of the air up above. If the entire column of air between the clouds and the ground is above 32 degrees, then it’s all rain for us. If that same column of air is below 32 degrees, then we get some amount of snow. 

That all sounds pretty simple. Things get a little more tricky though, if we our air is a mix of above and below freezing temperatures.  

One possible result is the least fun type of winter weather. That’s freezing rain, which can lead to icy roads and sidewalks.  

This happens when there’s a large pool of air up above which is above 32 degrees. This gives snow ample time to melt into rain.The problem is when there’s a shallow wedge of colder air right at the surface. When this happens, the rain freezes on contact with the colder surfaces and can turn things super slick in a hurry.  

The fourth type of winter precipitation is sleet. This happens when there’s a narrow wedge of above freezing temperatures high up, but a lot of below freezing air below it. This gives the melted snow time to form into sleet or ice pellets, which bounce when they hit the ground.
With several types of precipitation comes several types of alerts from the National Weather Service. You can study up with the chart below so you know exactly what a Winter Weather Advisory or Blizzard Warning means.
No matter where your travels take you this winter, RTV6 has you covered. Be sure to download the RTV6 app for updates days ahead of a system, so you know what’s coming. The Storm Shield app is also a great tool to receive winter weather alerts, for your exact location, right to your phone.
PREVIOUSWinter Weather Outlook: Be ready for a little bit of everything | Winter outlook: Will there be more snow this winter? | Indy Snow Force is getting ready for the winter season

Top Trending Videos