Record-breaking Arctic air created light, fluffy snow — very rare for Central Texas

Weather Blog

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Remember our January snowstorm when sticky, wet snow blanketed Texas, and we all eagerly flocked outside to build the perfect snowman?

Much to the dismay of just about everyone, last week’s storm produced completely different, light and fluffy snow — making it nearly impossible to build another one.

Why were these snow storms so different?

It has to do with something called snow ratio — the percentage of snow to water. Colder air means more snow from the same amount of water. The warmer temperatures are, think around freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), the lower the snow ratio.

Our January snowstorm had a very low snow ratio. It was around six inches of snow for an inch of liquid rain because temperatures hovered around the freezing mark.

The most recent storm had significantly colder temperatures. We started off in the teens at the beginning of the storm and didn’t really warm up near the end. This made for a significantly higher snow ratio which averaged around 13 to 1, more than double that of our January storm.

In the case of last week’s storm. Camp Mabry saw 6.4 inches of snow, which if you melted it down to liquid rain, equals roughly half an inch. That equates to a 12.8 to 1 ratio. A higher snow ratio means the snow is drier – with more air trapped within each individual snowflake, making it lighter in weight. A lower snow ratio means the snow is wetter and has a higher density.

So, the next time snow is in the forecast, look at the predicted temperatures at the time that it is expected to fall. Near freezing means you can plan for a snowball fight, while brutally cold means expect blowing dry snow that could affect visibility.

You’ll want to plan to spend that snow day inside!

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