Friday was an interesting weather day to say the least. You may have experienced a wintry mix of precipitation but also noticed the surface temperature was close, but not quite down to freezing.
Graupel is a form of precipitation that can form in cold atmospheric conditions above the surface, and then fall into warmer air and survive to the ground. Several factors are in play as to why they reach the ground as solids. If enough of it falls at once, there will even be some accumulation before melting occurs. If you happened to pick up some of the graupel yesterday, you may have noticed a “spongy” texture. This precipitation is not snow, nor hail, but a sort of mixture between (although the formation process is a little different). In fact, graupel starts off as snow high in the clouds. Super-cooled water droplets come into contact on the surface of the snowflake and instantly freeze, creating a small and soft ice pellet which has a diameter less than a quarter of an inch. This is what hit the ground in many spots today. We have another shot at some graupel today, but interestingly enough, also other forms of precipitation. Snow could be seen in areas up north of I-64 and in the high terrain southeast through the afternoon. Most of us get by with a cold rain, but keep in mind some of those graupel pellets may fall as well.
With all that said, Saturday is the last of the cold air for now. We’re warming up quickly as we move into next week. Sunday will feature a much better forecast with temperatures warming back into the 60s under plenty of sunshine. This “nice” weather will be short-lived as we enter yet another active pattern for the work week. Each day anything from light scattered showers to thunderstorms will be present. Days with the highest rain/storm potential are Tuesday and Thursday. Temperatures warm nicely back to and above early-Spring standards. We’ll warm into the upper 60s and low to middle 70s through the middle of the week. A larger cold front will deliver slightly cooler air for next weekend dropping us back into the 60s.