Christine’s Corner: Looking at the “fluff factor” in our recent snow

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Welcome to Christine’s Corner! A place where I, Christine, break down scientific concepts, do fun experiments, or just talk about the latest weather. My corner, my rules. Let’s dive in!

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – Snow falls in all shapes, sizes, and with differing amounts of moisture. All of these factors come together to determine just how much snow ends up piling up. Meteorologists use the phrase, “snow ratios” when talking about how much snow to liquid equivalent is contained within the snowflakes.

MORE|Snow Ratio Defined: Measuring the difference between fluff and sludge

In the video clip above I explain how snow ratios work, and I investigate just how much water content was really in our most recent snow. We know snow ratios were high based on model guidance and by looking at how light and fluffy the flakes were, but I put the snow sitting just outside our News 8 studio right to the test!

Interesting find:

After melting down the seemingly fluffy snow, it managed to melt down to about over an inch or so of liquid in the bottle. This would more represent a typical snow ratio of around 10:1. Think: The higher the snow ratio, the less water is produced. The lower the snow ratio, the more water is produced.

We know the snow falling over the past few days had very high snow ratios based on how fluffy and dry it was, but packing it down into the water bottle most likely gave just enough water to squeeze out in the end. Now just imagine how much liquid water the snow would have produced with even lower snow ratios! It would’ve likely filled up half of the bottle with pure liquid water.

This experiment is not full proof by any means, but it’s a fun way to get an idea on how much water content is really found in the snow. Plus, even though the snow is fluffy to the eye, it did have enough moisture to create a decent snowball.

It was quick to fall apart, but it was enough to do the trick. Give it a try, and enjoy the snow!

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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