What's the difference between sleet and freezing rain?

January 23, 2009 11:02:24 AM PST
Sleet and freezing rain are both forms of winter precipitation.

Erica's Answer:

Sleet is comprised of tiny balls of ice. They fall to the ground already in a frozen state. Freezing rain, however, falls to the ground as rain, but then freezes upon contact with the surface it touches- whether that surface is a sidewalk, a tree branch, or anything else at or near ground level.

It's easy to tell the difference between sleet and freezing rain as they're occurring because sleet pellets won't stick to tree branches or blades of grass as they fall; instead, the sleet will accumulate on the ground. Freezing rain, however, will coat objects such as trees and power lines with a layer of ice.

- Erica