Snow vs. Hail

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Snow and Hail is that the Snow is a precipitation in the form of flakes of crystalline water ice and Hail is a precipitation.

  • Snow

    Snow refers to forms of ice crystals that precipitate from the atmosphere (usually from clouds) and undergo changes on the Earth’s surface. It pertains to frozen crystalline water throughout its life cycle, starting when, under suitable conditions, the ice crystals form in the atmosphere, increase to millimeter size, precipitate and accumulate on surfaces, then metamorphose in place, and ultimately melt, slide or sublimate away. Snowstorms organize and develop by feeding on sources of atmospheric moisture and cold air. Snowflakes nucleate around particles in the atmosphere by attracting supercooled water droplets, which freeze in hexagonal-shaped crystals. Snowflakes take on a variety of shapes, basic among these are platelets, needles, columns and rime. As snow accumulates into a snowpack, it may blow into drifts. Over time, accumulated snow metamorphoses, by sintering, sublimation and freeze-thaw. Where the climate is cold enough for year-to-year accumulation, a glacier may form. Otherwise, snow typically melts seasonally, causing runoff into streams and rivers and recharging groundwater.

    Major snow-prone areas include the polar regions, the upper half of the Northern Hemisphere and mountainous regions worldwide with sufficient moisture and cold temperatures. In the Southern Hemisphere, snow is confined primarily to mountainous areas, apart from Antarctica.Snow affects such human activities as transportation: creating the need for keeping roadways, wings, and windows clear; agriculture: providing water to crops and safeguarding livestock; sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowmachine travel; and warfare. Snow affects ecosystems, as well, by providing an insulating layer during winter under which plants and animals are able to survive the cold.

  • Hail

    Hail is a form of solid precipitation. It is distinct from ice pellets (American sleet), though the two are often confused. It consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is called a hailstone. Ice pellets (American sleet) fall generally in cold weather while hail growth is greatly inhibited during cold surface temperatures.

    Unlike other forms of water ice such as graupel, which is made of rime, and ice pellets, which are smaller and translucent, hailstones usually measure between 5 millimetres (0.2 in) and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter. The METAR reporting code for hail 5 mm (0.20 in) or greater is GR, while smaller hailstones and graupel are coded GS.

    Hail is possible within most thunderstorms as it is produced by cumulonimbus, and within 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) of the parent storm. Hail formation requires environments of strong, upward motion of air with the parent thunderstorm (similar to tornadoes) and lowered heights of the freezing level. In the mid-latitudes, hail forms near the interiors of continents, while in the tropics, it tends to be confined to high elevations.

    There are methods available to detect hail-producing thunderstorms using weather satellites and weather radar imagery. Hailstones generally fall at higher speeds as they grow in size, though complicating factors such as melting, friction with air, wind, and interaction with rain and other hailstones can slow their descent through Earth’s atmosphere. Severe weather warnings are issued for hail when the stones reach a damaging size, as it can cause serious damage to human-made structures and, most commonly, farmers’ crops.

  • Snow (noun)

    The frozen, crystalline state of water that falls as precipitation.

  • Snow (noun)

    Any similar frozen form of a gas or liquid.

  • Snow (noun)

    A shade of the color white.

    “color panel|F9F5E6”

  • Snow (noun)

    The moving pattern of random dots displayed on a television, etc., when no transmission signal is being received.

  • Snow (noun)


  • Snow (noun)

    A snowfall; a blanket of frozen, crystalline water.

    “We have had several heavy snows this year.””

  • Snow (noun)

    A square-rigged vessel, differing from a brig only in that she has a trysail mast close abaft the mainmast, on which a large trysail is hoisted.

  • Snow (verb)

    To have snow fall from the sky.

    “It is snowing.”

    “It started to snow.”

  • Snow (verb)

    To hoodwink someone, especially by presenting confusing information.

  • Snow (verb)

    To bluff in draw poker by refusing to draw any cards.

  • Hail (noun)

    Balls or pieces of ice falling as precipitation, often in connection with a thunderstorm.

  • Hail (verb)

    Said of the weather when hail is falling.

    “They say it’s going to hail tomorrow.”

  • Hail (verb)

    To send or release hail.

    “The cloud would hail down furiously within a few minutes.”

  • Hail (verb)

    To pour down in rapid succession.

  • Hail (verb)

    to greet; give salutation to; salute.

  • Hail (verb)

    To name; to designate; to call.

    “He was hailed as a hero.”

  • Hail (verb)

    to call out loudly in order to gain the attention of

    “Hail a taxi.”

  • Hail (adjective)

    Healthy, whole, safe.

  • Hail (interjection)

    An exclamation of respectful or reverent salutation, or, occasionally, of familiar greeting.

  • Snow (noun)

    atmospheric water vapour frozen into ice crystals and falling in light white flakes or lying on the ground as a white layer

    “we were trudging through deep snow”

  • Snow (noun)

    falls of snow

    “the first snows of winter”

  • Snow (noun)

    a mass of flickering white spots on a television or radar screen, caused by interference or a poor signal

    “all that they could pick up on their screens was snow”

  • Snow (noun)

    a dessert or other dish resembling snow

    “vanilla snow”

  • Snow (noun)

    a frozen gas resembling snow

    “carbon dioxide snow”

  • Snow (noun)


  • Snow (verb)

    snow falls

    “it’s not snowing so heavily now”

  • Snow (verb)

    be confined or blocked by a large quantity of snow

    “I was snowed in for a week”

  • Snow (verb)

    mislead or charm (someone) with elaborate and insincere words

    “they would snow the public into believing that all was well”

Oxford Dictionary

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