How to tell the difference between snow, sleet and freezing rain

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In the winter, we can see many different types of precipitation. The type of precipitation that we see has to do with the temperature, not just at the surface, but also the temperature between the cloud and the ground.

The first type of precipitation is rain. You get rain when you have warm air from the cloud to the ground. Rain stays in its liquid state all the way to the surface.

The next type of precipitation is freezing rain. This is when you have warm air from the cloud, just above the surface. At the surface, we have cold or below freezing air, which causes the rain to freeze on impact.

Then we have sleet. Sleet is when there is a warm layer just below the cloud so it falls as a liquid, but then encounters a large area of freezing air. This causes the rain to freeze into ice pellets before making it to the ground.

Lastly, we have snow. This is when you have cold, freezing air from the cloud to the surface. This allows the ice crystals to stay as ice crystals all the way down to the ground.

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