What’s the difference between freezing rain, sleet and snow?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With another round of wintry precipitation in the forecast for the next few days, it’s a good time for a refresher on how the different types of wintry precipitation are created and the hazards that they can cause.

The different “modes” of wintry precipitation are all dependent on temperatures, and more specifically, the entire temperature column for cloudy to ground.

The graphic below shows the different types of precipitation we typically see during the colder season. It’s easy to see what creates rain and snow through the whole column of air. It’s important to remember that typically, all precipitation starts as snow during the cold season. Rain is created once the snow moves through above freezing temperatures in the lower level of the atmosphere. On the other hand, the snow will remain snow if the entire column of air is below freezing to at or just near the surface.

Where the forecast gets complected (and in my opinion, one of the hardest to forecast) is when we get into a freezing rain and sleet event. There is a little bit more that has to happen to create either modes of those precipitation types.

For both sleet and freezing rain, you need a temperatures inversion – that’s when temperatures rises with height. (In typical situations, temperatures usually cool with height).

The difference is how deep of shallow the colder air is near the surface. In both situations the temperatures are below freezing at and near the surface. However, in freezing rain situations, the colder air is shallow, which doesn’t give precipitation the opportunity to refreeze before it makes it to the surface.

With sleet, the warmer air layer aloft is more shallow, which allows the liquid precipitation to refreeze before it hits the surface.

While both sleet and freezing rain can cause travel problems, freezing rain can be much more crippling under the right conditions. Typically most susceptible to icy conditions under freezing rain conditions are bridges and overpasses. Because of the open air flow around bridges, the cool far more quickly than a non-elevated surface.

The most dangerous part of freezing rain is the black ice that it creates. It’s easy for us to see snow and sleet accumulation on the road, and with that we can adjust or travel conditions accordingly. With freezing rain, often times you won’t know the difference between an icy road and a wet road.


Florida woman accused of zipping her boyfriend in suitcase for hours until he died

(CNN) — Sarah Boone called 911 and said her boyfriend got trapped in a suitcase and died during a game of hide-and-seek, according to court records.

The Florida couple had been drinking Chardonnay and doing puzzles Sunday night in their Winter Park apartment, Boone told authorities, when they thought “it would be funny” to hop in a suitcase as a part of the game, according to an arrest affidavit from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Boone, 42, zipped up Jorge Torres Jr. in the blue suitcase containing a few items for donating. Two of his fingers stuck out, so she assumed he could open it, according to the affidavit.

She went upstairs to bed and thought he’d get himself out of the suitcase and join her, only to wake up Monday and find him still in it and not breathing, the affidavit says.

Boone was arrested Tuesday and faces a second-degree murder charge after investigators determined videos on her phone contradicted her story.

The phone footage shows her mocking her boyfriend as she filmed his cries for help, and telling him it was his punishment for cheating, according to the arrest affidavit.

“I can’t f**king breathe, seriously,” her boyfriend said in the phone video. “That’s on you. Oh, that’s what I feel like when you cheat on me,” she responds.

The video shows the victim pushing on the suitcase and trying to get out, the affidavit says. When police showed the video to Boone, she pushed it away halfway through and said she didn’t want to watch it, the affidavit says.

Police searched her iPhone after she signed a waiver and gave verbal and written consent. CNN has reached out to her public defender.

Boone denied intentionally leaving Torres in the suitcase, according to the affidavit.

Boone called police Monday afternoon and said she woke up hours earlier but assumed her boyfriend was on his computer in another room. When she could not find him, she suddenly realized he was still in the suitcase.

“Sarah unzipped the suitcase and found Jorge unresponsive and not breathing,” the affidavit says. “Sarah zipped Jorge in the suitcase to where he could not get out. Jorge begged Sarah repeatedly telling her he could not breathe and Sarah left him in the suitcase … and demonstrated a depraved mind without regard for Jorge’s life.”

When police arrived at the scene, they found the victim near the front door with a laceration on his lip and bruising around his eye.

Boone is being held without bail. No cause of death is listed on the arrest affidavit.