Why Spring Snow Melts Quickly

Snow that falls in late March and April tends to melt quickly. There are several reasons for this. Average temperatures are much higher this time of year than in winter. In April, it is difficult to keep air below freezing for very long even in a cold snap. Sunlight strikes the Earth with much more intensity in spring than in winter, so solar radiation contributes greatly to the melting process in spring. But the biggest reason is the snow, itself. Old winter snow pack is cold. Having been on the ground during our subzero winters, the temperature of the snow inside a deep, old snow drift is usually well below 32 degrees at the end of winter. It can be quite a process to warm old winter snow up to 32 degrees so it can melt which is why those early March mild days melt very little snow. But freshly fallen spring snow is usually barely below freezing to begin with, so it warms to 32 very readily and then melts quickly. John Wheeler

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