Q&A on the News

Q: When it snows, most of the precipitation remains on the ground rather than becoming runoff. When it melts, does it add more to the water table than the equivalent amount of rainfall, and what’s the ratio?

-- Cody McClinton, Atlanta

A: No, snow does not add more to the water table -- the liquid equivalent is the same as if it had rained, WSB Radio meteorologist Kirk Mellish told Q&A on the News in an e-mail. But it can be slightly less because snow can "evaporate" from above -- a process called sublimation, he wrote. "It could at least in theory sublimate into the air over time and never contribute to the water table," he wrote. "But usually most of it will melt into the soil and the loss will be negligible."

Q: On Jan. 29, WSB radio (AM750 and now 95.5 FM WSB) reported that one of the planets was in perfect alignment with the Earth's crescent moon. Which planet was it?

-- Scott MacLean, Forest Park

A: It is the planet Venus, David Dundee, an astronomer in the education department at Cartersville's Tellus Science Museum, told Q&A on the News.

“Venus is really bright in the predawn sky right now. And then Jupiter right now is bright in the evening sky right after sunset,” he said. He added that once a month, the moon makes a complete circuit among the planets in the sky, passing each of them. Look for this to happen again at the end of February and beginning of March, he wrote. Readers can learn more about the planets from Dundee in Charles Seabrook’s "Wild Georgia" column in the AJC’s Living section each Saturday.

Lori Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or e-mail q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).