After closed passes, heavy snow and high winds, the weather conditions will calm down as we head into the work week. Warmer air will move into the region and scattered rain and snow showers will decrease Monday morning after heavy snow causes a very difficult time getting across the Sierra. Temperatures will be mild through the rest of the work week (near the 50 degree mark in Reno) with the next storm moving through on Wednesday, with mountain snow above 6,500’ and valley rain.
Many have asked me what the difference between freezing rain and sleet is. Sleet is basically snow that starts to melt on the way down, and falls as a mix of rain and snow. Freezing rain is precipitation that has completely melted into rain on the way down, and then falls into cold air at the surface that is below freezing. This rain usually freezes rapidly as it hits the ground, and is perhaps the most dangerous winter weather pattern. How do you get it?
In general (and perhaps obviously) you need to have warm air aloft on top of cold air at the surface… along with (again obviously) some rain. This can occur a couple of different ways. A warm front will always shove warm air up over colder surface air, and is a relatively common way to get freezing rain in the central plains states. Here in Nevada, these cold air inversions that we have been having can also trap enough cold air in the valleys to create freezing rain, although it is fairly rare.