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Snow comprises individual ice crystals that grow while suspended
in the atmosphere usually within clouds and then fall,
accumulating on the ground where they undergo further changes.
it consists of frozen crystalline water throughout its life cycle,
starting when, under suitable conditions, the ice crystals form in
the atmosphere, increase to millimeter size, precipitate and
accumulate on surfaces, then metamorphose in place, and ultimately
melt, slide or sublimate away.

Snowstorms organize and develop by feeding on sources of atmospheric
moisture and cold air. Snowflakes nucleate around particles in the
atmosphere by attracting supercooled water droplets, which freeze in
hexagonal-shaped crystals. Snowflakes take on a variety of shapes,
basic among these are platelets, needles, columns and rime.

As snow accumulates into a snowpack, it may blow into drifts. Over
time, accumulated snow metamorphoses, by sintering, sublimation and
freeze-thaw. Where the climate is cold enough for year-to-year
accumulation, a glacier may form. Otherwise, snow typically melts
seasonally, causing runoff into streams and rivers and recharging


Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from
atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under
ravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible
for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth. It provides
suitable conditions for many types of ecosystems, as well as water
for hydroelectric power plants and crop irrigation.

The major cause of rain production is moisture moving along
three-dimensional zones of temperature and moisture contrasts known as
weather fronts. If enough moisture and upward motion is present,
precipitation falls from convective clouds (those with strong upward
vertical motion) such as cumulonimbus (thunder clouds) which can organize
into narrow rainbands.

In mountainous areas, heavy precipitation is possible where upslope flow
is maximized within windward sides of the terrain at elevation which
forces moist air to condense and fall out as rainfall along the sides of
mountains. On the leeward side of mountains, desert climates can exist
due to the dry air caused by downslope flow which causes heating and
and drying of the air mass.


Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge during which
two electrically charged regions in the atmosphere or ground temporarily
equalize themselves, causing the instantaneous release of as much as
one gigajoule of energy. This discharge may produce a wide range of
electromagnetic radiation, from very hot plasma created by the rapid
movement of electrons to brilliant flashes of visible light in the
form of black-body radiation.

Lightning causes thunder, a sound from the shock wave which develops as
gases in the vicinity of the discharge experience a sudden increase in
pressure. Lightning occurs commonly during thunderstorms and other types
of energetic weather systems. The three main kinds of lightning are
distinguished by where they occur: either inside a single thundercloud,
between two different clouds, or between a cloud and the ground.

Many other observational variants are recognized, including "heat
lightining", which can be seen from a great distance but not heard; dry
lightning, which can cause forest fires; and ball lightning, which is
rarely observed scientifically. Ball lightning may be an atmospheric
electrical phenomenon, the physical nature of which is still

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