9 Different Types of Precipitation

There are many forms of precipitation to be found in every climate. Every climate will have a wide range of precipitation throughout the year. Depending on the season, the types of precipitation that we notice will differ. Snow in the summer seems highly unlikely because of the warm within the atmosphere.

Types of Precipitation

There are several types of precipitation that range from rain to freezing fog. Let’s explore the forms of precipitation a little more in-depth.

Precipitation types

1. Snow

Snow is when ice crystals combine and form flakes. Snow usually forms when the temperatures are below freezing. Snow only reaches the surface when the entire temperature of the troposphere is at or below freezing.

2. Rain

This is a liquid precipitation that falls to the surface in droplets that are greater than 0.5 mm in diameter. Rain falls in different intensities. The intensity is light, moderate or heavy and is determined by the accumulation or amount that falls over a given time. Snow intensity is light, moderate or heavy and is categorized as such depending on the accumulation over a given time.

3. Snow Pellets

Snow pellets are precipitation that occurs when cooled water freezes on ice crystals or snow flakes. The snow pellets can also occur when the snowflake melts and then refreezes as it falls. Snow pellets are many times called sleet, hail and snow. They will bounce off of objects and are whiter in appearance than sleet.

4. Snow Grains

These are small grains of ice. Accumulation is not usual with snow grains. They are the solid equivalent to rain drizzle.

5. Ice Crystals

Many times ice crystals are also known as diamond dust. They float in the wind and are small ice crystals.

precipitation classification

6. Sleet

Ice pellets, also known as sleet, are raindrops that have frozen. The snow falls and is a little about freezing and the snow is partially melted. The snow that reaches the surface not fully melted is sleet. The lowest layer in the troposphere will be below freezing when sleet is falling and this allows the drops to completely freeze.

7. Hail

This is a dense precipitation that is ice and is at least 5mm in diameter. The water that is in the atmosphere freezes and sticks to the embryo hail stone. There is soft hail and hard hail that can fall. Hard hail can cause extreme property damage.

8. Freezing Rain

Rain that reaches the earth’s surface in droplets that are larger than 0.5mm in diameter and the droplets freeze when they come to earth’s surface.

9. Drizzle

This is liquid precipitation, or rain, that reaches the surface in droplets that are smaller than 0.5 mm in diameter.

10. Freezing Drizzle

Freezing drizzle is rain that reaches the surface in droplets that are smaller than 0.5mm in diameter. These droplets freeze on the earth’s surface.

The types of precipitation do not necessarily mean that there is only one form of precipitation falling. Mixed precipitation is when two or more types of precipitation fall at once. This is more common in climates where weather shifts are much more extreme.

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