Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What the Hail?


No that wasn’t hail you saw Sunday Afternoon. It’s called ‘Graupel’. It forms in very similar ways to hail in a thunderstorm but in a much colder environment.

One of the best things you can learn about the weather is: Warm air rises. I know it didn’t feel warm today, but our high of 36 is balmy compared to single digits just a few thousand feet above our heads. As this ‘warm’ at the surface rises, water droplets form. First creating clouds, then super cooled water droplets. The water droplets stay in a liquid form despite actually being colder than freezing. These super cooled water droplets collide with falling snowflakes and form the graupel you saw today!


So how do you tell the difference between hail and graupel?

-Hail forms during spring and summertime thunderstorms and is very hard. Like an ice cube.

-Graupel typically forms during heavy snow/wintery mixes and easily falls apart in your hand.