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According to the FAA's Aviation Weather Services advisory circular,

Values below 15 dBZ are typically associated with clouds. However, they may also be caused by atmospheric particulate matter such as dust, insects, pollen, or other phenomena. The scale cannot be used to determine the intensity of snowfall. However, snowfall rates generally increase with increasing reflectivity.

Why can't that scale be used to determine the intensity of snowfall?

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  • $\begingroup$ Guess: the radar reflection strength strongly depends on the ratio of ice to water, so light wet snow reflects more strongly than heavy dry snow. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Griscom Jul 1 '16 at 23:16
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Snow, unlike rain, has holes as well as different refractive properties. This allows the radar beam to penetrate and reflect the beam differently than an ordinarily oblate rain drop.

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