Does Snow Melt Above Freezing?

Piled-up snow after a snowstorm can pose quite a challenge to people on the go. Some surfaces are made slippery, some passageways are blocked, and even roads made impassable. This brings to mind the practical solution of melting the snow. So you may be wondering, does snow melt above freezing?

Water has a freezing point of thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, or zero degrees Celsius. It is quite common to have snow melting during days when the temperature of the air has not risen above the freezing point. This is because once temperatures on the surface of the earth rise to just thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, ice and snow on the surface will start to melt. Rainfall also has a tendency of melting snow as it is in a liquid state and thus above the freezing point. Ordinarily, snow will melt above freezing.

Below, we will have a look at snow's behavior in regards to temperature changes. We will analyze the composition of snow that makes it susceptible to melting, when melting occurs, and how it occurs. So be sure to keep reading!


Snowy solar panels on the roof of a house, Does Snow Melt Above Freezing?

what is the warmest temperature it can snow?

It has been noted that snowflakes have the ability to endure almost a one thousand-foot fall while in an environment that is above freezing before beginning to melt. There has been snow falling to the ground while the temperature is at an average of thirty-five degrees. However, it has been recorded of snow falling to the ground level with an outdoor temperature as high as fifty degrees.

does snow melt from the top or bottom?

Snow melts from either the top or the bottom. This will depend on the weather and temperature conditions.

For snow to melt from the top, it has to have direct contact with sunlight. Some of the rays get reflected due to the crystalline nature of snow particles and their white color. Nonetheless, some of the heat energy emanating from the sun's rays will slowly turn the snow from its solid state to a gaseous one of vapor through the scientific process of sublimation. The snow will slowly evaporate into the atmosphere, thus melting from the top.

Some of the water that melts during this process will trickle into the snow. This will have a resultant effect of melting the snow further as the temperature of the trickling water will be above freezing, as illustrated here.

Snow melts from the bottom when it is in direct contact with the land surface or walls made of materials such as concrete or bricks. These materials in contact with the snow will absorb radiation from the sun's rays as they are darker in color and texture. Snow that is directly in contact with the warmer surface then starts to melt from the bottom. As the bottom layer turns to liquid and melts away, the upper layers are lowered closer to the warm ground eventually melting all the snow away.

Snow that is on the roof surface of a house or building will have a somewhat similar scenario only that the snow will at first melt slowly from the top as the sun rays begin to hit. Gradually the roof surface itself, regardless of whether it is made of iron, shingles, or aluminum, gains heat from the direct sun rays. As the top layer evaporates away, the bottom layer begins to melt as the roof surface continues to heat up. The roof surface will retain heat from the sun and therefore the process of melting will continue from the top and bottom steadily until all the snow has been gotten rid of.

How do you melt snow instantly?

Snowy solar panels on the roof of a house, Does Snow Melt Above Freezing?

Snow is a substance found in our environment and atmosphere. It is made up of watery particles that have grown thick or hard into a solid-state, as a result of cold or freezing. These watery particles are normally in the form of transparent or white crystals, sometimes even appearing as flakes in the air. These flakes or crystals then fall to the earth covering the ground surface over an extended snowing period.

Traditionally, it will take snow up to three days to undergo the melting process. It can then be a bother having piled up snow blocking areas that require access. Several factors such as the sun, wind, rain, air temperature, ground heat absorption properties, and density of the snow will play a huge part in determining the rate of snow melting.

Let's look into some simple home-improvised solutions as well as some scientific ones.

Simple Home Improvised solutions

There are several alternative methods of melting snow beside the use of salt. One may opt to use hot water, which is a direct contrast to snow in terms of temperature. This is the easiest method to melt snow although it does not last long. This is because the melted snow may just as well freeze over again.

Driveways and other areas that require frequent access may be covered using plastic tarps. Snow then piles up on the spread-out tarp to a height of several inches. It then becomes relatively easy to shovel this snow or just as easily push it off the tarp if it has a thickness of about one to two inches.

Used coffee grounds contain acids and nitrogen which help in melting the snow. Coffee grounds are safe for your pets and have a high level of efficiency in terms of melting snow. Scatter grounds after you have shoveled off the snow. You may also scatter them before it begins to snow. A combination of dishwasher liquid, rubbing alcohol, and water; preferably hot, is also effective in melting snow.

These methods though cheap and easy to execute, will not last long and thus one may spend a lot of time melting the snow over and over. A more certain way to get your snow to melt is by use of salt or pellets.

Scientific Solutions

There are salt pellets that soften water and can be found in hardware stores at a relatively affordable price. Spread these pellets evenly on the area you require to melt snow. This can be before or even after a storm. An eighteen-kilogram bag is enough to get you through one winter. Asphalt is not damaged by salt pellets making it greatly advantageous over other methods. They are not, however, pet-friendly.

If you have pets to consider, don't worry. There are pellets that are safe for pets. These are, however, a tad more costly than water softening salt pellets. Pet-friendly salt pellets are applied in a similar manner to water softener ones.

A method that has been in use for quite some time now is the use of rock salt. Rock salt is effective and cheap. Bags of this salt can be purchased at a local hardware store. Once bought, spread these rocks to your desired area after or before a snowstorm. They will melt the snow. A point to note is to avoid overusing the salt as it may make the snow stick to your ground. If on the driveway, the asphalt may suffer irreversible damage.

does packed snow melt slower?

Packed snow melts slower than ordinary snow crystals and flakes. This happens majorly because packed snow contains particles that have been compacted tightly together. This makes the volume of snow contain fewer air particles and more water particles. This will in turn maintain the snow in a semi-permanent solid state which is harder to melt compared to flakes and crystals.

On the other hand, ordinary snow will exist in crystalline nature or in form of flakes. This volume of snow will contain less water particles and more air particles in between them. This is easily melted when the temperature rises above freezing.

final thoughts

Snow melts above the freezing point. Since the freezing point of water is zero degrees Celsius or thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit; any temperature change resulting in a higher degree than the freezing point, even by a slight rise, will melt the snow slowly from the top, eventually melting from even the bottom.

Kiarie Chaga
Kiarie Chaga

I am a writer deeply enthusiastic about world literature. African by blood, Global by perception.

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