Friday, March 18, 2016

What is that wintry precipitation??

This is the weirdest precipitation. It consists of tiny little white balls that melt pretty much on contact but are very cold. They look like Styrofoam pellets. Is this miniature hail? (Very elusive; hard to photograph. Ignore the dirty car in the background and look at the bottom of the window. I took the picture from inside my car looking at the stuff on the outside ledge of my car with the dirty car in the parking spot next to me.)

I really wanted to know what it was so I went to the ultimate source: Facebook. Here's the ensuing conversation:

From a friend in Colorado: We get those here too. I know, they are weird.
From my cousin in Florida: Looks like hail to me?
I reply: It's softer than hail. It's like a tiny snow ball. 
From a friend here in Farmington: Sleet
I reply: It doesn't look like any sleet I've ever seen before. Too dry...sleet is icier and wetter in my experience. Now I'm going to have to look up the science of sleet to see how one word can encapsulate two such different things!
From a friend in Texas: This is why Scandinavian countries have a dozen different words for all the different types of snow.
Tomorrow, I leave for Galveston with the Butterfly Friends. One of them replies: Galveston is going to feel so good!   
Next comes a URL from a Farmington friend: The pic isn't good, but from your description and photo - and they aren't that unusual here. smile emoticon 

From that website:
When you think of wintry precipitation, you probably think of snow first. Then sleet, and maybe freezing rain. But it’s likely that the word “graupel” doesn’t come to mind.

Graupel, which is a kind of hybrid frozen precipitation, is sometimes referred to as “snow pellets.” The National Weather Service defines graupel as small pellets of ice created when super-cooled water droplets coat, or rime, a snowflake.

Graupel pellets are cloudy or white — not clear like sleet — and often are mistaken for small hail. The most critical necessity for the formation of graupel is extremely cold air at the cloud level. This creates the super-cooled water (liquid water that exists below the freezing point), which adheres to the snowflakes.

Then she posted this photo which looks just like what I saw:

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