Weather Whys: How does snow melt when the temperature is below freezing?

Weather Whys: How does snow melt when the temperature is below freezing?

We are in the heart of a deep blast of cold air right now with temps below-zero for some and wind chills as cold as -20. The sunshine makes a difference with your spirit but can also make a difference on snow melting. In today's Weather Whys Megan asks, "How can snow melt when the temperature is below 32°?"

The air temperature rises and falls due to a combination of wind, sunshine and cloud cover. As the sun emerges in the morning it's energy warms the air causing the temperature to rise. Even when the temperature of the air doesn't reach 32° the sun can still warm the ground, snow, dirt, homes, etc. to 32°. When that happens the snow or ice will still melt even if the air temperature doesn't reach freezing.

It's all about the sun angle this time of year. The higher the sun angle, the more direct sunlight we get and the warmer the temperature rises. At the start of winter the sun angle is only 27° which is why we get so cold in December and January. By today's date the sun angle rises to 36° and by the start of spring the sun angle is at 47°. So even though it might be cold, the sun is still doing it's work warming the ground a melting some snow.

Weather Whys is a segment by Meteorologist Justin Thompson-Gee that airs during the CBS 58 News on WMLW - The M from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. The segment answers viewer weather questions, explains weather phenomena and reveals interesting weather stats. To submit your question reach out to Justin on Facebook, Twitter or by emailing him at [email protected].

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