A method to diagnose surface precipitation types is suggested. Most cases of freezing rain and ice pellets occur with a layer warmer than 0°C extending above a surface-based layer of air colder than 0°C. The procedure uses predictors proportional to the product of the mean temperature of a layer and its depth. These predictors can be seen as areas on aerological diagrams. A positive area is associated with a layer warmer than 0°C, conversely a negative area is associated with a layer colder than 0°C. The same predictor is used to discriminate snow from rain. A statistical analysis was applied using the North American aerological stations network to determine a set of criteria for discriminating freezing rain, ice pellets, snow, and rain. Once the criteria are known, the precipitation type can be easily diagnosed using temperature profiles from upper-air observations or from numerical weather prediction models. The method has been in operational use at the Canadian Meteorological Centre since 1995.
Weather and Forecasting – American Meteorological Society
Published: Sep 23, 1999