Graupel falling from the Charleston sky

Graupel | Image via Wikimedia

It’s snow; it’s rain; it’s… graupel? One cold-weather related term you might want to become familiar with this season is “graupel”, which was reportedly falling from the Lowcountry sky earlier this week. We are in for a stretch of cold days and there’s no better time to learn what this weather term means, in the event it starts to shower graupel again. 🌨️

In this post, the National Weather Service (NWS) Charleston explained that graupel is snow that is formed from precipitation. The scientific explanation is that once the precipitation forms as snow, it is “rimed in layers by supercooled liquid from updrafts into showers.” Simply put (and in less scientific terms), it resembles a smaller version of hail, similar to a snowflake masked in freezing water + can be referred to as snow pellets

These are key factors when graupel is formed:

○ Occurs when the lower atmosphere is very unstable.

○ Surface temperatures are generally 45 degrees or colder

○ Cloud temperatures are mostly below freezing, with some portions colder than 15 degrees 

If you happen to see little versions of hail falling from the sky in Charleston, now you know it might just be graupel. If you can (safely), snap a picture and send it to us here. ❄️