Patricia Lovely of Madison Twp. finds 'graupel' on her patio - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Picture the Weather: A peculiar looking snowflake

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Source: Patricia Lovely, FOX19 News Nation Source: Patricia Lovely, FOX19 News Nation
MADISON TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) -

A peculiar looking snowflake fell in Madison Township on Thursday.

Patricia Lovely walked outside when she noticed something on her back patio, at first thinking it was cake decorating sprinkles.

Turns out, it was actually 'Graupel', also called soft hail. Graupel usually falls as small, soft snow pellets.

It forms when very small water drops that are colder than freezing collect on a snowflake. The instant these tiny, 'super cooled' water drops touch the snowflake they freeze.

As the drops collect on the snowflake, and each other, they form a milky looking ice called rime.

Usually because of the size of the small drops, eventually the falling mass becomes a small snow pellet.

In Patricia's case, either the super cooled drops were:

  1. Extra small
  2. Not very numerous
  3. The snowflake fell fast so not many had time to accumulate

Because each of these reasons make the number of frozen drops small, the shape of the snowflake was not obscured by the accumulating ice.

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