It cannot be too cold to snow. Snow can form at any temperature provided the right conditions exist.
As long as there is water vapor in the air (which there always is), and conditions exist which chill that air to the point of condensation, precipitation will develop. When the temperature is below freezing, that precipitation will be snow.
Still, it is true that it becomes increasingly difficult for snow to develop as it gets colder.
As air gets colder, it can hold less and less water vapor. For example, air at 0 degrees can hold less water vapor than air at 30 degrees. Therefore, there is less moisture available to become snow in air at 0 degrees than air at 30 degrees does. Plus, conditions which chill air to the point of condensation are less likely to occur when it’s very cold.
Given that very cold air has low moisture content, when it does snow, the flakes are light and fluffy. Conversely, the nearer the temperature is to freezing when snow is falling, the heavier and stickier the flakes tends to be.
So, can it be too cold to snow? No.
But, does snow become less likely when it’s very cold? Yes.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Craig Koplien
Published March 28, 2014
Temperatures have averaged below normal for each of the last several months. Here's the latest outlook for what temperatures are expected to be like this spring.
Published March 21, 2014
While we shivered through our coldest winter in many years, much of the rest of the world had one of its warmest on record.
Published March 10, 2014
It was early March when summer began in 2012. Milwaukee reached its warmest March temperature on record. Do you remember?
Published March 1, 2014
Milwaukee-area temperatures averaged well-below normal during December, January and February. Is it time for a turnaround?
Published Feb. 3, 2014
With one month to go, this winter has been in the coldest top 10 percent of winters in Milwaukee.
Published Jan. 20, 2014
Are you happy to learn winter is half-way over or disappointed to learn we have another half to go?
Published Dec. 28, 2013
New Year's day falls just a few weeks prior to the mid-point of the cold season in the Milwaukee area. Still, it's not always cold on the first day of the year, especially recently.
Published Nov. 25, 2013
Here's the latest outlook for temperatures and precipitation across Wisconsin this winter.
Published Nov. 12, 2013
Following a cold Tuesday, slow-warming is expected for the rest of the week.
Published Nov. 11, 2013
Here's when we typically get our first snow. Plus, the definitions of the most common winter weather bulletins.