"But what if it were snow?"


After large rain events, in or out of our area, we are often asked "but what if it were snow?" This is a challenging question to answer, because it's largely hypothetical.

"If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas."

^ Keep that in mind throughout this blog post.

When snowstorms happen, there typically isn't this much moisture to work with. So what you see through the duration of this blog post is purely mathematical, but still interesting.

When talking about snow, it has a certain amount of water in it. This water content depends on the air temperature. The higher the air temperature, the more water there is, and the less that the snow can accumulate. Drier snow can accumulate more easily, because there's more pockets of air. So, as the snowflakes accumulate on the ground it becomes like a game of Tetris.

Let's start out with two towns and their rainfall between Saturday and Sunday. Big Stone Gap received 4.87 inches of rain, and Kingsport received 2.72 inches according to reports from the National Weather Service in Morristown.

At a temperature of 28-34°, the amount of water in the snowflake gives us this ratio: For every one inch of rain, there's ten inches of snow. At a colder temperature, such as 20-27° the ratio becomes, "for every one inch of rain, there's fifteen inches of snow."

Through simple multiplication, you can see what the snow would (hypothetically) be. Now you see how that would pretty much never happen in a two-day span in this region. (Closer to the Great Lakes? Maaayyybe.)

I did this mathematical conversion for some other towns around the area. I did the 10:1, 15:1 and 20:1 ratios. I also took an 11:1 ratio, because that's the average snow-to-water ratio in our region. You could see how that would end up for multiple towns in our area.

You probably didn't expect this much math, but for those of you that were wondering - here's your answer.

Water levels continue to recede in hard-hit areas late tonight and Tuesday morning. For the latest river levels, be sure to check back here.

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