Snow vs. Sleet vs. Hail

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Difference between Snow, Sleet and Hail

Snow, sleet and hail are all forms of precipitation. Falling crystalline water ice from clouds is known as snow. Snow is comprised of granular ice particles. These particles are soft and smaller in size. The definition of sleet varies by location. Partially melted snow on earth surface is called as sleet in Europe. Wet snow is the sleet in US. According to meteorologists, sleet is frozen rain drops. Fall of irregular lumps of ice from thunderstorms is known as hail. It generally appears with in 2 nautical miles from the origin of a thunderstorm.  



Movement of Strong up-draughts through freezing clouds is one of the primary causes behind the formation of hail. In the initial phase, they are tiny granules of ice. When become heavy enough, they fall on earth in the form of hail. They are commonly associated with thunderstorms, but all thunderstorms do not result in hail. For this, the hailstone needs to grow large and survive in freezing conditions until it meets the surface of earth. Sleet is formed due to melting of snowflakes within 1500-3000 meters range of atmosphere. Compressed above-freezing layer under sub-freezing air is the cause of snowflake melting. When extra tropical cyclone warm air comes in contact with cold air formation of snow begins.


There are several subtypes of snow. Corn snow appears during spring. When soft snow is covered with hardened crust, it is known as crust snow. Freshly fallen and light snow is called as powder. Compressed and flattened snow is often referred as packed powder snow. On the verge of melting, snow is referred as slush. Ice prisms, snow grains, snow pallets, ice pallets and large hail are popular types of hail. Compressible and white pallets are known as snow pallets. They are opaque. When small white grains of ice are precipitated in atmosphere, it is known as snow grains. There is no further classification of sleet.


Common victims of snow and sleet are the trees in your garden and landscape. For this purpose, you need to plant stronger trees in your landscape.  If occurrence of snow is frequent, you should not plant trees of brittle species.  You need to wrap up small and multi-leader trees help them from being damaged by snow.  Automobiles and homes are damaged by hail. If you are residing in a hail prone area, you should go for hail resistant roof. Metal roofing is highly hail resistant. There are several insurance policies available to safeguard your home and vehicles against hail. In hail prone areas, all most all insurance companies sell these policies.

Similarities and Differences

  • Snow and sleet generally have no negative impact on human life.
  • Fitness activities like shoveling are associated with snow.
  • You can go skiing and snowboarding when the snow falls. Numbers of professional competitions of skiing and snowboarding are much loved past times. 
  • However, the same cannot be told about hailstorms. Hail storms are always a nuisance or pose some sort of threat as it can damage nature and people belongings.

comments 1 Comments

  • Jeannie . 3+ yrs. ago

Snow is something that one enjoys, sleet is a rain which gives a normal feeling and one prefers to stay in hail. everyone dislike it as it causes disasters.

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