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Existing customers: 01438 717175

Can It Be Too Cold to Snow?

Can It Be Too Cold to Snow?

Winter Landscape

As kids (and adults, admittedly), we’re left disappointed when pulling apart our curtains on a cold winter morning and not finding any snow. We’ll usually conclude that it is not cold enough — but have you ever considered that it might be too cold?

It can be too cold to snow. Exceptionally low temperatures can affect the conditions needed for snow to occur. 

This article will explain the idea in greater detail and provide tips on how to protect your grounds over the winter.


When does it snow?

Will it snow? There are three conditions required for snowfall:

  1. Cold temperatures
  2. Moisture
  3. Rising air

The process for snow begins identically to the process of water:

  • Evaporation turns water into water vapour, making the air moist.
  • The air rises. It cools as it reaches higher altitudes.
  • The moisture eventually gets cold enough that it condenses into water droplets or, in most cases, freezes into ice crystals.
  • These water droplets or ice crystals are so light, they float in the air and collect to form clouds. When the clouds get too heavy, precipitation occurs.

This is where things change. If the temperature towards the surface is warm enough — and it usually is — any ice crystals falling from the cloud will melt and become rain. However, when the surface temperature is freezing, these ice crystals remain frozen and we get snowfall instead of rainfall.

Can it be too cold to snow?

Shouldn’t this mean that snow is more likely to happen the colder it is? Not quite.

Snow requires moisture and moisture requires a little warmth (evaporation). When the temperature on the surface is extremely cold, water is unable to evaporate into vapour. This leads to a lack of moisture in the air and a lack of moisture in the clouds. The water cycle essentially stops.

This usually occurs when the air temperature at the surface levels drops below -20°C. Such glacial temperatures are rare but not impossible in the UK. In 1982, Braemar in Aberdeenshire hit an overnight low of -27.2°C. 

How can you prepare your grounds for snow?

Man with shovel cleaning snow at day light

Snow is beautiful to look at but can be a detriment to your grounds. Prepare your grounds for winter by following these tips:

  • Place a layer of mulch around the base on your plants to prevent ‘winter burn’.
  • Ensure you have suitable equipment to remove snow.
  • Carry out pruning of your plants.
  • Dig over your beds before the soil gets too hard.
  • Hire a professional grounds maintenance company for the best care.

To learn more about how to prepare your ground for winter, visit this article.

John O’Conner provide a range of ground maintenance services that keep your grounds in top conditions through every season. During winter we offer leaf clearance, gritting & snow clearance, tree maintenance, asset improvement plans and more. As one of the UK’s most successful ground maintenance companies, you can trust in us to protect your grounds and help it flourish. Contact us today to learn more.


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