Winter precipitation can take on several forms depending on temperatures at various heights in the atmosphere.
***Click on video above for Jeff's explaination***
All precipitation begins as snow high up in the clouds, but if there's a layer of above-freezing air on the way down, those snowflakes will melt into raindrops.
If that warmer air extends all the way to the surface, you'll be looking at plain rain.
Freezing rain occurs when the snow melts into rain, but then encounters a very shallow layer of subfreezing air near the ground. The raindrops will hit the cold surface and freeze on contact, creating an icy glaze. Freezing rain can turn roads into an ice skating rink!
Sleet occurs when snow melts into rain in a narrow warm layer, but then has enough time to refreeze into ice pellets before hitting the ground.
If temperatures are at or below freezing from the cloud all the way to the ground, you'll simply get snow!
Rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow, these are the four types of precipitation that you'll hear about this winter in the Accuweather Forecast!