After Tuesday’s snow event, totals really stacked up in parts of Northwest Kansas. The snow-to-liquid ratio is the main factor when it comes to whether you see a light, fluffy snow or a heavy, wet snow. The average ratio is 10 to 1, meaning for every 10″ of snow, there is a 1″ liquid equivalent. For light snow, the ratio is much higher — up to 20 to 1. This happens when temperatures are in the 20s or colder. Light snow forms when all layers of the atmosphere are below freezing, so there is no melting as the snow falls to the surface. These snows can be dangerous because light, fluffy snow is not as compact as wet snow and can stack up quickly.

For heavier, wet snow, there is a much lower snow-to-liquid ratio. — around 5 to 1. This happens when temperatures are closer to freezing or around 32 degrees. Heavy, wet snows start light and fluffy in the upper levels of the atmosphere, but there is a change on the way down as temperatures are not as cold. There is some partial melting which results in the big snowflakes that we sometimes see. This snow is more compact and more difficult to shovel.

As you monitor the forecast from the Storm Track 3 Weather Team, when snow is expected, keep an eye on the temperatures. You will now have a good idea of what kind of snow to expect!

-Meteorologist Ronelle Williams