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CNN's Chad Myers answers winter weather questions

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Meteorologist Chad Myers is a news and weather anchor for CNN.

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SPECIAL REPORT

(CNN) -- Do certain winter weather events have you bewildered?

In this series, CNN news and weather anchor Chad Myers sheds some light on winter weather phenomena, along with debunking a few common myths, by answering questions submitted by readers. (Submit your question)

What is the difference between hail, sleet, snow and freezing rain?
-- James Blackton from Los Angeles, California

Hail is a raindrop in a thunderstorm that is caught in an updraft. It is sent to the highest elevations of the storm and then freezes in air that is -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Sleet is a raindrop that falls from the sky and freezes in cold air trapped near the ground. Sleet is frozen when it hits the Earth. Freezing rain is the same raindrop that fails to freeze until it hits the ground. Snow is formed below freezing and stays in below-freezing air all the way down. (More of the differences)

Why do the winds seem to be much stronger after we have a cold front pass us?
-- Mauricio Duque from Sumter, South Carolina

A cold front is the leading edge of a high-pressure system moving from the northwest, west or southwest. It moves forward and pushes its air into a lower pressure area. This is just like letting the high-pressure air out of your tires -- you can feel the "wind" coming out of the valve stem.

It always seems to cool off a few degrees just before the sun comes over the horizon. Is this true?
-- David Hardy from Calgary, Alberta

It is true if the air is still and the coldest air "drains" to the lowest point around. If the thermometer is in that low point, it will register the temperature fall.

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