Is the old adage true that one inch of rain would equal 10 inches of snow?

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Dear Tom,

Is the old adage true that one inch of rain would equal 10 inches of snow?

—Tony Urbaniak Glendale Heights

Dear Tony,It’s a good starting point, but much more complicated. Chicago climatologist Frank Wachowski states that the city’s average snow-to-water ratio is 12:1; 12 inches of snow, melted, yields one inch of water. However, that ratio varies widely from storm to storm depending on the temperature and moisture profile. When snow falls with temperatures above freezing, it is heavy and wet with ratios as low 5-6:1. The ratio increases to about 20-to-1 with temperatures near 20. Fluffy and easily shoveled lake-effect snow is a good example of a “cold environment” snow, because it falls from very dry arctic air that has picked up moisture from Lake Michigan. The snow-water ratio in such situations can be as high as 40-50:1.

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