A Wintry Mix of Vocab
In the middle of an unseasonably warm winter, my part of the Midwest finally got some wintry weather this week: freezing fog. I love freezing fog. It’s not as dangerous as freezing rain, but it works a similar overnight magic of changing a dreary landscape into a sparkling frosted masterpiece.
According to the American Meteorological Society, freezing fog (which is made up of suspended particles of ice) is also known as air hoar, frost flakes, frost fog, frozen fog, ice-crystal fog, pogonip (a Native American word used mostly in Western mountain valley regions), and rime fog. If that isn’t enough of a wintry mix for you, here are a few more interesting seasonal phenomena to come to terms with:
droxtal tiny ice particle of 10 to 20 microns (less than half a speck of dust) caused by the freezing of water droplets; a combination of drop and crystal
glaze thin, mostly clear, smooth coating of ice formed when water is deposited, usually by rain, and freezes
graupel white, opaque, mostly round, snowlike ice particles with a diameter of 2 to 5 mm; also called snow pellets, soft hail, and tapioca snow
hail irregular spheres of ice with a diameter of at least 5 mm (smaller examples are ice pellets or snow pellets)
hoarfrost covering of interlocking ice crystals, usually from atmospheric water vapor freezing on exposed items with small diameters (tree branches, wires, etc.); fluffly, feathery, and lighter than rime
rime white, opaque, granular ice coating from gradual accretion of small droplets of frozen water; lighter, softer, more opaque than glaze, but harder and denser than hoarfrost
sleet transparent or translucent ice pellets of 5 mm or less; transparent, spherical sleet is from frozen rain or refrozen, mostly melted snowflakes; translucent, small-hail sleet is from ice-covered snow pellets; in the UK and some parts of the U.S., it can also mean a mix of snow and rain
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language; American Meteorological Society, Glossary of Meteorology, 2nd ed.; Merriam-Webster.com; National Weather Service Glossary; USA Today, “Winter Weather Glossary”; WiseGeek.com
Image courtesy of glasseyes view.