IEM Daily Feature
Tuesday, 22 October 2013

540 Thickness

Posted: 22 Oct 2013 12:01 AM

A forecasting rule of thumb is to look at something called the "540 thickness" to delineate snow versus rain events. The technique involves subtracting the height of the 1000 mb surface from the 500 mb surface. When this depth of air, or thickness, falls below 540 decameters (5400 meters), the air is typically cold enough to support snow. The featured chart presents the combination of this thickness value vs near surface air temperature for events where rain or snow were reported by the Omaha airport weather station. There are many caveats to this chart including exact timing issues and changes in automated reporting techniques for rain + snow. The application of this chart to today's weather is that thicknesses are well below 540 over eastern Iowa and closer to 540 over western Iowa. Snow is more likely the further east into the falling precipitation you go!

Good = 50
Bad = 5

Tags:   forecasting   sounding   snow