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    Hoar Frost

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    After a cold, clear winter night without much wind, the ground and nearby tree branches may be covered by tiny, white ice crystals.

    These loosely interlocked ice crystals are a phenomena known as hoar frost or radiation frost.

    The term "hoar" relates to old age according to its old English origins.

    This frost is formed from the same process that forms dew; however, the liquid stage is skipped completely.

    "It goes from water vapor to ice crystals when the temperature is below freezing," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck said.

    Basically the air cools to the dew point and, because the surface temperature of the object is already below freezing, crystals are formed.

    In order for this frost to form it is essential that the air is warmer than the objects in which the frost forms upon.

    These ice crystals are relatively rare but can be mistaken for snow depending on their thickness.

    Hoar frost can form on various forms of vegetation or objects that are in the open air and have been cooled below the freezing point.

    "They can form on anything that's small because those get colder faster," Smerbeck said.

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    These objects can include leaves, plants, wires, poles, tree branches, blades of grass and twigs.

    Other places this unique frost can be found are man-made. It can be found near freezers or rooms that are not well-insulated against the cold.

    Despite its natural beauty, hoar frost is also known to help cause avalanches.

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    • Hoar Frost

      After a cold, clear winter night without much wind, the ground and nearby tree branches may be covered by tiny, white ice crystals.