Sunday, October 21, 2018

Yesterday We Had Graupel

So, yesterday while driving down to Harvard, Illinois, we drove through a kind of weather I'd never seen before. It wasn't oobleck, but it was strange enough to make me think of one of those articles they occasionally used to run in the FORTEAN TIMES about rare weather events that occur but not often enough for people to recognize them when they do.

We were going warily, having had to detour around the pieces of a split-open fallen-apart fallen tree tangled up with a downed power line while coming through Williams Bay. We'd gotten as far as Walworth when Janice noticed that the fields to our right --that is, to the west-- looked odd. It was almost as if they were covered with fog. But you don't get fog in a high wind, at least not in these parts. There was no smell of smoke. We had no precipitation hitting the windshield yet we cd see what looked like a thin cover of drifting snow blowing across the highway.

It wasn't until we pulled over for me to make a quick dash into a roadside convenience store that things came together. The wind, which was coming in hold-on-to-yr-hat blasts, was suddenly full of tiny snow pellets that looked exactly like fake snow. That is, they looked like tiny individual specks of styrofoam, except these were perfect little spheres.

Within minutes it had melted or blown away. Later, checking online, I found a piece identifying the phenomenon:

So, an unusual sight, and one I'm glad to have experienced.

---John R., in Rockford

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