The basic ingredients needed for a winter storm

March 16, 2023
It takes three to tango, ingredients that is, when it comes to winter storms
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:37 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Today’s winter storm packed a punch with strong winds but appeared to be a flop when it came to snow fall. So, what factors contribute to how a storm behaves? Storms have a tendency to develop over southeast Colorado in the lee of the Rockies. These storms move east or northeast and use both the southward plunge of cold air from canada and the northward flow of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to produce heavy snow and sometimes blizzard conditions. Just like any other storm at other times of the year, the right combination of ingredients is necessary for a winter storm to develop. Three basic ingredients are necessary to make a winter storm. First you need cold air. Below freezing temperatures in the clouds and near the ground are necessary to make snow and/or ice. Second you need moisture in order to form clouds and precipitation. Air blowing across a body of water, such as a large lake or the ocean, is an excellent source of moisture. Third, you need lift or something to raise the moist air to form the clouds and cause precipitation. An example of lift is warm air colliding with cold air and being forced to rise over the cold dome. The boundary between the warm and cold air masses is called a front. Another example of lift is air flowing up a mountainside. These elements, along with timing and track, affected how today’s winter storm panned out.