JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Snow was falling through the sky over Jacksonville early Monday morning, and you were just over a mile away from seeing it.
While the snow showed up on radar, the only other way to see it was in an airplane at 7,000 feet. That was the altitude for the low freezing level where the snowflakes melted once they passed into the warm air below.
The melting snowflakes made the radar display look very red, or stormy, despite the light rain which fell all day and night.
The film of meltwater around the frozen flakes tricked the radar into measuring very large raindrops.
Meteorologist call this bright banding a relatively rare phenomena in our area.
Bright banding is due to snow melting as it is falling aloft, with a film of water on the melting snowflake causing the radar to see it as a giant raindrop or small hail.
By the time it reaches the surface, the precipitation is a cold rain. The radar, however, will overestimate precipitation in the bright banding areas, so will have to rely on observations.
Snow will make it all the way to the ground Tuesday in north Georgia. A winter storm watch goes into effect at 4 a.m. Tuesday for Atlanta, a city known for grinding to a halt in even an inch or two of snow and ice. The National Weather Service projects that up to an inch of snow is possible Tuesday in Atlanta.