the most common process in the development of freezing rain

Animation by: Hall

For precipitation to form, something is needed to force the air to rise. Warm air overrunning is the most common process in the production of freezing rain. This occurs as warm air rides up and over colder air, (as in the animation above), the water vapor condenses, producing clouds and precipitation. When the precipitation falls through an atmosphere with a temperature profile similar to the one described above, freezing rain is a likely result.

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Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.