RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Depending on where you live in Wake County, you could have seen anywhere from about 2 to 4 inches of snowfall on Friday night. Even with the right amount of powder on the ground, you may have found it was tough to put a snowman together.
There’s a reason for that.
“So when you’re sitting there and you’re trying to compact that snow and it uses some of that moisture, it just doesn’t stick together as good as when you have a wet snow,” said Brandon Locklear, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.
Friday’s snowfall was what we consider a dry snow. Whether a snow event is dry or wet comes down to its snow to liquid ratio.
For a wet snow, you’ll need a snow to liquid ratio below 10:1. It would ideally be at or below 8:1. Dry snow, or a powdery snow, has higher snow to liquid ratio. For dry snow, you’ll need a snow to liquid ration above 10:1.
This weekend’s snow to liquid ratio was about between 10:1 and 15:1.
“For North Carolina, that’s a pretty high snow to liquid ratio. Our average is around 8:1 or 9:1. And that means that our snows are usually what we call more wet snows,” said Locklear.
The driving factor for whether a dry or wet snow will fall is the temperature in the atmosphere. Locklear said as snow was falling on Friday, temperatures were in the 20’s. That created the conditions for a drier snow event. If temperatures would have been closer to freezing, 32 degrees, that would have created better chances for wet snow.
“We were a lot colder than what we normally are at the onset of precipitation. That’s why we were confident that most of the state was going to see a mostly snow event because of those really cold temperatures,” said Locklear.
While not ideal for building snowmen, conditions were ideal for sledding or skiing. A little bit of melting in the daytime then refreezing at night created slicker conditions for sledding.
“I know that just from hearing the kids playing and laughing in my neighborhood that they had much more fun that next night,” said Locklear.
While there were plenty of kids out having fun in the snow this weekend, so far this year, Locklear said we’ve seen lower than normal snowfalls. This time of year, North Carolina would typically be at 2.8 inches of snow. Right now, snowfall totals are at about 2.3 inches.