We're talking about the difference between freezing rain and sleet. We had a few false reports last weekend, and this will hopefully help identify the difference, so we can get accurate reports to the Channel 3 area.

First, all winter precipitation begins as snow aloft this time of year. Once a wedge of warm air moves in, depending on how big that wedge of warm air is, the snow will all melt, becoming rain. If the wedge of warm air is large, but temperatures on the ground are at 32 or colder, the rainfall freezes to surfaces. This is freezing rain, or ice.

If the wedge of warm air aloft is smaller, and there's cold enough temperatures at the surface and above, then sleet occurs. Here, the snow melts in the warm layer (becoming liquid), but then refreezes BEFORE hitting the ground. This creates ice pellets, also known as graupel. 

Freezing rain is much more dangerous, and causes roads/bridges to become slick and icy. Bridges are the first to freeze because of the cold air that moves over and underneath the bridge, as opposed to a warm ground where the air is only blowing above the surface. In the meantime, download the WRCB Weather app to stay informed this winter!

If you have a weather-related story, feel free to email Meteorologist Brittany Beggs.