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John Wheeler: Mild weather over Thanksgiving was not good for snow melting

Water content, snow temperature and low humidity all slowed the snow melt.

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FARGO — Much of North Dakota and northern Minnesota was hit by a major snowstorm mid-November, and most of this area has not lost this snow cover yet despite several sunny days in the 30s and 40s Thanksgiving weekend. There are three reasons for this very slow snow melt. First, the original snow had a high water content. In the far west, there was a lot of snow, whereas the southeastern part of the storm delivered sleet and freezing rain which upped the water content. More water takes longer to melt.

Secondly, there had been two weeks of cold weather, so the snow was cold, which also slowed the melting. The third reason is that last week's mild weather was also very dry. Dry air melts snow slowly because much of the melted snow evaporates and is then easily refrozen back onto the cold snow, giving the snow that crusted look. In humid air, the melted snow remains liquid.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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