MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We all know, precipitation can take various forms depending on the temperature outside. All precipitation throughout the year will start as snowflakes high in the sky.
The snowflakes form due to air rising, cooling and condensing in the atmosphere, usually around an area of low pressure.
What happens after the snowflakes fall is what determines if we gain sleet, freezing rain, rain or snow. Did you know there is another form of precipitation that can form and fall from the big grey sky?
Graupel is one of the lesser known precipitation types and it is also known as snow pellets. Graupel forms when snowflakes are coated with a thin layer of ice. Usually falling in a white, opaque ball, from the sky to the earth.
Unlike hail, sleet, graupel is soft and can fall apart easy in the hand. Graupel is usually smaller than hail, with just a diameter of 0.08-0.2 inches.
While most wonder if it is sleet or is it graupel? Well sleet forms as liquid precipitation that freezes before reaching the ground. Graupel is snowflakes that collect super cooled water droplets on its surface.
The big difference is the color and look of the two precipitation types. So next time you see a form of frozen precipitation and wonder why it isn’t something that looks familiar, just know it could be Graupel.