What’s the Difference Between Sleet and Freezing Rain?
I keep hearing the terms "sleet" and "freezing rain" in this weather event we are experiencing. Full disclosure, I don't know what the difference is but I know they aren't interchangeable. I do know they are both dangerous when it comes to driving conditions. So, like any good investigative reporter, I googled it!
According to the National Weather Service:
What is Freezing Rain?
Freezing rain occurs when the layer of freezing air is so thin that the raindrops do not have enough time to freeze before reaching the ground. Instead, the water freezes on contact with the surface, creating a coating of ice on whatever the raindrops contact. -NWS
What is Sleet?
Sleet is simply frozen raindrops and occurs when the layer of freezing air along the surface is thicker. This causes the raindrops to freeze before reaching the ground. -NWS
Which is More Dangerous?
So it looks like freezing rain is liquid until it hits the ground and sleet is frozen in the air. So if you feel like you are being hit by pieces of glass, it's sleet. Both can cause a coating of ice wherever they land. The NWS does say that freezing rain is what usually causes power lines and tree branches to become coated and break. And when first responders were asked about which forecast causes more accidents, freezing rain seemed to be much worse than sleet.
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