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The science behind the major spring snowstorm

Time for some science!

A significant late-season winter storm is expected to dump heavy snow from Nebraska to Massachusetts over the next 48 hours. The science behind this well-defined (almost horizontal) stripe of snowfall is found in a meteorological term called "frontogenetic snowfall".

That can seem like a big, scary word, but when it's broken down into its parts, it's a bit easier to digest.

First, we have the word front. You hear meteorologists talk about cold fronts and warm fronts-- all we mean is the leading edge of an air mass. Second is the word genetic, which just means "the origin of".

Put the two together and you get snowfall which originates along the boundary of an air mass.

If you look at temperature tracker, you can clearly see the dividing line between warm moist air to the south (orange colors) and colder air to the norther (whites and light blues). This clash of air masses forces air up into the atmosphere, creating clouds and precipitation.

For the case of snowfall, you'll find it on the northern edge of the main boundary.

Spring to make a return!

The current pattern which has brought colder than normal weather to mid-Missouri is expected to lift northward, bringing a return to normal, spring-like temperatures through the weekend into next week!

This would (almost certainly) be our last taste of winter... but who knows. It's Missouri. Mother nature may have her own plans.


Insider Blog

Luke Victor

Luke Victor gives forecasts on ABC 17 News broadcasts and reports on weather stories on air and online, giving viewers and readers a deeper look at what causes different types of weather.


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