Sleet

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Sleet refers to snow that has partially melted on its fall to the ground, due to surrounding air that is sufficiently warm to partially melt it while falling, but not warm enough to fully melt droplets into rain. Thus 'sleet' refers to partially melted droplets. It does not tend to form a layer on the ground, other than when the ground has a temperature that is below freezing, when it can form a dangerous layer of invisble ice on surfaces known as 'black ice'. This occurs similarly when rain freezes upon contact with the ground.

Sleet is also used colloquially for rain mixed with some frozen droplets.

In the British Isles, sleet refers to precipitation which is a mixture of snow and rain.

Misconceptions

Other forms of precipitation, such as so-called 'soft hail' or granular snow, are sometimes mistakenly referred to as sleet.

See also

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