Atmospheric Water Vapor
Water vapor (humidity, clouds, fog, snow, rain) can cause mobile signal problems by impeding or scattering radio waves and therefore causing bad cell reception. Water conducts electricity, which we know interferes with cell signal, but it also reflects and/or refracts radio waves, and absorbs energy from radio waves and converts the energy to heat, causing the “propagation delay effect”.
What causes the Propagation Delay Effect?
1. Water vapor conducts electricity.
2. Water vapor reflects and refracts radio waves.
3. Water vapor absorbs energy from radio waves and converts it to heat.
So how does water vapor weaken mobile signal?
Cell signal takes longer to transmit to and from cell towers and would show on your phone as decreased reception, no reception at all, or intermittent reception. Some moisture in the air is a good thing and could facilitate signal transmission, but too much and it becomes an interference.
SNOW & HAIL
We live in Minnesota, so we’re glad to be seeing some relief from the heavy March 2018 snowfall. Cheers to those on the East Coast that got it much worse than we did! You’ll feel relieved knowing that snow does not really affect mobile signal unless it causes secondary or indirect problems like power outages or increased user load on cell towers.
When we’re all stuck indoors, more people are on their phone surfing the web, checking social media, making phone calls, telecommuting, and stressing the capacity of network towers. This increased user load would only slow your service speed, but not eliminate it.
Snowflakes and hailstones are composed of ice, which is less dense and reflective than liquid water, so they are unlikely to refract radio waves like liquid water can. Heavy or dense snowfall could potentially create mobile signal problems, but it is unlikely.
Thunderstorms or rainstorms with heavy rain are the most likely weather element to affect your cell reception. Compared to the wavelength of cell phone radio frequencies, raindrops are small, but when there is a lot of them they can cause negative changes in mobile reception.
CLOUDS & FOG
Since clouds and fog are made with water vapor it is possible that they could scatter radio waves and impact mobile signal negatively, but it is not very likely. Some people say that they have better service when it is foggy. Remember that water vapor can facilitate or improve cell signal when it is present but not overbearing.