SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Several factors bring cold weather into KELOLAND each year, including something called Albedo.
Here’s how it works. I’m sure you’ve walked out of a cool, air-conditioned building in the summertime and were instantly hit with a wall of heat in the parking lot. That wall of heat you walked into is caused by the parking lot’s low Albedo, or its low reflection of solar energy.
Solar radiation hits the black top and reflects only about 10% of that energy, so it’s able to heat up.
Compare that to the wintertime. Snow keeps the cold air in place. You can see the effects that the snow has in our current forecast…
…where we are calling for teens and 20s in the northeast, where the snowpack is very thick, and 40s in the west, where the ground is bare of snow.
This is because snow has a very high Albedo, it reflects a lot of solar energy.
Solar radiation hits the snow and about 90% of that energy is reflected, so the ground and the air don’t warm up much because they don’t absorb much energy.
And what little energy is absorbed, melts the snow.
The good news is, as the days and weeks go on, the sun angle becomes more direct, which will help melt more snow which will help warm us up. So even if we end up seeing snow in the spring, we know it won’t last long.