Where Does Snow Go When It Melts?

Quck answer

When snow melts, it goes through a process called runoff. The melted snow travels downhill, following the path of least resistance. It can seep into the ground, replenishing groundwater supplies. It can also flow into streams, rivers, and lakes, increasing their water levels. In urban areas, melted snow often collects in storm drains and is channeled into sewer systems or nearby bodies of water. Some of the melted snow evaporates into the atmosphere, contributing to the water cycle. Ultimately, the destination of melted snow depends on the terrain, infrastructure, and natural drainage systems in a particular area.

Lately, we have been experiencing a lot of snow in Wonderopolis and we have been having a great time. When it snows, we engage in activities such as sledding, making snow ice cream, playing hockey with our friends, ice skating, and building snowmen. Due to the abundance of snow, we have made a significant number of snowmen, approximately 24,387 in Wonderopolis!

Although Wonderopolis may be getting a bit crowded, we are not concerned. When the weather gets warmer, the number of snowmen will decrease. Curious to know where they go? Keep reading…

Snow, which is the solid form of water, melts when the temperature rises above 32ยบ F. When the Sun shines and warms the Earth, the snow begins to melt and transform into runoff. This runoff can penetrate the ground and be used to nourish plants.

If the ground is already saturated with water, the runoff will flow into lakes, streams, rivers, and other bodies of water. When snow turns into liquid runoff, it enters the water cycle.

The water cycle is the process through which water moves from land and bodies of water into the atmosphere and eventually returns to land and bodies of water. The three steps of the water cycle are evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.

The Sun plays a role in the water cycle by heating water on land and bodies of water, causing it to change into a gas called water vapor through evaporation. As vapor, the water rises into the atmosphere, cools, and forms clouds through condensation.

When clouds become too saturated with water, precipitation occurs and the water falls back to Earth. Depending on the temperature, this precipitation can be in the form of rain, snow, or ice. Once it reaches the Earth, the entire process starts all over again. This is why it is called the water cycle. It continues endlessly!

Try It Out

We hope you enjoyed learning about how Mother Nature recycles snow in today’s Wonder of the Day. Keep the learning going by trying out one or more of the following fun activities with a friend or family member:

Winter Science Experiments

Are you experiencing Winter where you reside? Is there a layer of snow covering the ground? If the answer is yes, get ready to conduct a simple experiment that will put your mathematical abilities to the test. Grab a tape measure and designate an area in the snow in the shape of a square, with each side measuring 10 feet. Before commencing the experiment, make a prediction about the amount of water you believe exists in the 10-foot square of snow. To aid in your estimation, measure the depth of the snow. In order to determine the quantity of water present in your square in the form of snow, excavate a one square foot segment of snow (a square of snow measuring one foot on each side). Take that portion of snow inside and place it in the bathtub, ensuring that you first insert the stopper in the drain. Allow the snow to melt and then employ a measuring cup from the kitchen to gauge the amount of water in the tub. Multiply your findings by 100 to ascertain the amount of water in the large square you marked outside. How accurate was your initial prediction?

Were you aware that you can also recycle snow by yourself? It’s true! When it snows, not only can you engage in activities such as sledding, snowball fights, and building snowmen, but you can also utilize snow to create some delectable treats to share with your loved ones. One of our favorite treats is Snow Ice Cream. Click on the link to access a snow ice cream recipe. Enjoy making this incredibly tasty treat the next time snowflakes grace the sky!

No snow on the ground currently? No worries! Enlist the help of a friend or family member and go online to explore these enjoyable science experiments that will expand your knowledge regarding the transformation of water from a liquid to a solid or gas:

  • Creating Your Own Water Cycle
  • Ice to Water to Steam


1. Where does snow go when it melts?

Snow melts when the temperature rises above freezing point. When this happens, the snow turns into liquid water. The melted snow can go in different directions depending on the conditions. It can either seep into the ground and become groundwater, flow into nearby rivers and lakes, or evaporate into the atmosphere as water vapor.

2. Does melted snow contribute to the water cycle?

Yes, melted snow plays an important role in the water cycle. When snow melts, it adds water to the Earth’s water cycle. The water can be absorbed by plants and trees, replenish underground water sources, or flow into streams and rivers. From there, it can evaporate and form clouds, which eventually lead to precipitation in the form of rain or snow.

3. Can melted snow cause flooding?

Yes, melted snow can cause flooding under certain circumstances. If there is a rapid snowmelt or if the ground is already saturated with water, the melted snow may not be able to absorb into the ground quickly enough. This can lead to an increased volume of water that flows into rivers and streams, causing them to overflow and flood nearby areas.

4. What happens to the nutrients in the snow when it melts?

When snow melts, the nutrients present in the snow can be released into the environment. These nutrients can include nitrogen, phosphorus, and other minerals. They can either be absorbed by the soil and used by plants, or they can be carried away by the melted snow and end up in bodies of water. Excessive nutrients can lead to water pollution and negatively impact aquatic ecosystems.

5. Can melted snow be used as drinking water?

In general, melted snow can be used as drinking water if it is collected and treated properly. However, it is important to consider the source of the snow and the environment it melted in. If the snow has been contaminated with pollutants or if it has melted near industrial areas or heavily trafficked roads, it may not be safe to consume without proper purification or treatment.

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