A new scientific study has found that snow can reach the earth at up to 4C in Colorado – warmer than most other places on earth.
Scientists discovered that whilst it still needs to be freezing up in the clouds for snow to form, the flakes can make it to the ground where temperatures may be much warmer in Colorado, where they probably wouldn’t elsewhere.
The study, by the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, part of the University of Colorado, found that the reason for this was the moisture content of the air, as much as the temperature.
The researchers crunched nearly 18 million precipitation, temperature, and humidity observations spanning over 100 countries and four continents across the Northern Hemisphere to reach their conclusions, which they hope will be factored in to weather forecasting and climate modelling moving forward, which currently assumes a ground air temperature of 0C or lower is needed for snow to fall.
The process, called evaporative cooling, means that Colorado’s very dry air allows snow flakes to reach the ground even at plus temperatures. In areas where the air has a high moisture content the reverse can be true and freezing rain falls at sub zero temperatures.
Colorado’s snow makers are reported to be well aware of the unique climate conditions in their state and use them to make snow early in autumn when snowmaking would not normally work successfully (as pictured at Loveland above).