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Is it sleet? Is it hail? It’s graupel

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 3:56 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s Superman. That comes to mind when trying to figure out what type of precipitation fell Wednesday.

Is it sleet? Is it hail? It’s graupel, otherwise known as snow pellets.

Each icy precipitation type forms differently and when looking at the sounding of the atmosphere, it’s clear as day that graupel fell. Graupel is heavily rimed snow particles or snow pellets. Riming is a process in the atmosphere that acts to stick snow crystals together and then rain or partial melting adds an icy outer layer.

Graupel is typically white, soft, and crumbly.

Sleet starts off as a snowflake in the atmosphere, melts in a warmer layer below, and then refreezes into ice as it falls into a below freezing layer below that.

Hail forms in a thunderstorm and is a convective process.

Snow pellets in Montevallo
Snow pellets in Montevallo(Christina Partridge)

We appreciate all for sharing photos of the snow pellets via the WBRC First Alert Weather App.

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