Weird Precipitation Spotted in Rochester Thursday
Did you see this odd precipitation during the weird weather we experienced in southeast Minnesota Thursday?
This form of precipitation doesn't occur all that often, but I'm pretty sure it was falling all around me as I took our dog, Asher, for a walk in Rochester Thursday afternoon. I found a Minnesota weather report last year that listed a form of precipitation I'd never heard of-- and I'll bet probably haven't, either. But I'm pretty sure this is what it was.
First, a little background: Being a self-confessed weather geek, I follow several different National Weather Service offices as well as all our local meteorologists. (Heck, I still even follow several meteorologists I used to work with who are now working in markets from Pacific Northwest over to Roanoke, West Virginia.) And with some rain, snow and mixed precip in our forecast for Thursday, I was busy checking all my weather sources wondering just how much rain, sleet or snow we were going to get.
But I stumbled on a weather term even I hadn't heard of-- it was something called 'graupel.' I saw it on the Twin Cities' National Weather Service Twitter feed. I didn't know what exactly it was, though it appears to be similar to what I've always called 'sleet'. The National Weather Service La Crosse office cleared it up for me.
They define graupel as "The same as snow pellets or small hail." Okay, that makes sense-- and IS kinda like sleet. This NWS Tweet goes into a little more detail, though: Graupel is "snowflakes that have collected supercooled water droplets on their surface."
Another meteorologist said graupel looks similar to those Dippin' Dots you can get at the Minnesota State Fair in the summer. Which is what I'm pretty sure fell on me and Asher yesterday (for all of five minutes, before it turned sunny again) while we were on our walk. (Then again, it could have been just a plain 'ol snow squall). But I'm going with the graupel. And if your neighborhood is anything like mine in northwest Rochester, it might have seen some graupel Thursday, too -- now that I know what it is.