What's the difference between sleet and freezing rain?

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With a winter system that brought snow, followed by sleet and freezing rain, across our entire region on Wednesday, our First Alert Storm Team has been getting one question pretty often.

What's the difference between sleet and freezing rain?

As far as conditions, you need warmer air above the ground for both. For sleet, you only need a little bit of warmer air above the ground to partially melt the snowflakes, and then it will re-freeze as it falls toward the ground, looking like ice pellets falling from the sky.

Freezing rain means only the ground is below freezing; the air above the ground is warm enough to melt the snowflakes, so it falls as rain, but because ground temps are below freezing, it freezes into ice on contact.

For more, watch Chief Meteorologist Aubrey Urbanowicz's explanation above.