Elliot Abrams

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Showers of Rain, Snow and Graupel

October 18, 2013; 7:26 AM

Friday 9 a.m.

When National Weather Service meteorologist (Chicago area office) Gino Izzo mentioned the possibility of graupel in some of the showers this weekend, it led to this headline in the Chicago Sun-Times: "Weekend forecast: No snow, some graupel (We never heard of it either)" Graupel may look like small hail, but it crumbles when you touch it. It can look like pellets (as opposed to flakes) of snow.

Why use the term? First of all, it is difficult to explain. This means if a weather forecaster spends a long time on the explanation, there is less time to give a forecast that might turn partially erroneous. However, as to the issue itself, hailstones are solid balls of ice. The ice balls often have layers caused by the changing concentrations of water and ice in the cloud through which it travels. Sleet forms when snow melts on the way down, then freezes into small pellets of ice which bounce around on cars, rooftops, etc. Whereas many people tell me they've never heard of it when I talk about it, graupel is common enough to receive this entry on the first page after searching for it on Google:

In other words, graupel has been photographed numerous times.

In this video, we look at the forecast for this weekend and early next week. Whereas the major East Coast cities may have a round of showers with a frontal passage tomorrow night, places downwind from the Great Lakes (Buffalo, for example) may have persistent showers that can include narrow bands of heavy rain. Next week, colder air will invade the Northeast, and the area between the Great Lakes and Appalachians may be grappling with the first snow showers of the season.

Here is a Chicago area video:

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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About This Blog

Elliot Abrams
Elliot Abrams from AccuWeather.com offers this Northeast Weather Blog for the U.S. with regular updates on NE weather from a leading forecaster and meteorologist.