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Why is the Snow Dusted Brown?

Dust From the Southwest Arrives in Michigan Snow

Plenty of viewers were shocked Thursday - and we were, too! - when a light brown coating appeared on top of the freshly fallen snow.

The questions poured in, and we found the answer.

A strong wave of energy with a low-pressure system brought in more than just snow. Gusty winds with a part of the storm system we saw Thursday morning started out over New Mexico Wednesday afternoon before making its way over the Great Lakes.


The strong winds from the storm system stirred up dust and lifted it high into the atmosphere, where it stayed until it fell to the ground Thursday morning in places across Northern Michigan.

Particles in the atmosphere such as sand and dust often serve as a surface for moisture to settle on. When the moisture settles on the particles, it forms into droplets that eventually fall as precipitation.

The brown we see on the snow fell to the ground with the freezing drizzle Thursday morning. Meteorologist Michael Stevens ventured out and melted a piece out of the frozen precipitation to see for himself!

We saw the brown snow here at the station too! Meteorologist Michael Stevens explains what it is!

Posted by 9&10 News on Thursday, February 23, 2023

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