Wild World of Weather: Rain vs. Snow

Nurro, Eyewire, citizen science, meteorology, Wild World of Weather, umbrella

Now here’s a VS for the ages: what’s your ideal precipitation situation? We’re going to assume nobody wants hail or sleet, but in the meantime, there are decided advantages to just dealing with rain, while there are also advantages to just dealing with snow. Let’s compare the two!


  • How is rain formed? It forms when condensed water vapor, e.g. in clouds, becomes heavy enough to fall as droplets. Depending on their size, they can fall anywhere from 7.2-32 km/h (4.5-20 mph), assuming sea level altitude and no wind.
  • Speaking of size, have you ever noticed that raindrops in summer are “fatter” than at other times of year? When temperatures are higher, water’s surface tension loosens, allowing raindrops to take on more mass without breaking apart.
  • Rain is life, if you’re an agrarian community. Plus, the sound of rain is peaceful to many people, and can even help you sleep. That last part might be both good and bad!
  • Drivers: you might hate when it rains at night, creating glare on the road and making lines harder to see!


  • How is snow formed? It’s not just freezing rain— that’s how you get ice storms. Snow actually forms from ice crystals in the clouds themselves. This is why snow can fall even when it’s above-freezing at ground level, though it may not stick very well.
  • A common adage about snowflakes is that every single one is unique. This is sort of true, but the crystalline structures of snowflakes can be easily sorted and classified, and they usually have six edges or points due to how ice crystalizes.
  • Snow helps literally brighten a winter day (or night), and a lot of folks find comfort in a snowy wonderland. Is it worth the shoveling and freezing temps?
  • Drivers: snow is slippery to drive on, even when there isn’t ice, and sometimes the falling flakes are a dangerous way to zone out!

Which would you choose, if you could only choose one? The competition starts at 11:00 AM EST on 2/22 and goes for 48 hours! Bonus information is detailed in your notifications.

Swag (made possible by generous donations from our past player @susi): The top scoring player on the winning team wins their choice of tote bag or t-shirt! Also, among the top 50% of players on the winning team, 1 player will be raffled their choice of tote bag or t-shirt, and 3 more players will be raffled their choice of sticker or magnet.

Artwork by Daniela Gamba