Yesterday was an interesting day in terms of snow. In the morning, the ground was covered with a few inches of light, powdery snow. It was a "dry" snow...not much moisture in it. It was fluffy and didn't weigh much when shoveling it.
By the afternoon, the snow changed. When we came home from the homeschool co-op, harp lesson, and two errands - the snow texture was like something Sophia, Olivia, and I had never seen before.
Olivia was the first to notice it. "Mom, look at the snow!" Indeed it was quite different than anything we had ever seen. It looked like Styrofoam pellets. They were relatively soft yet were in little balls. It wasn't hail which we see at other times during the year when there's a thunderstorm. It wasn't sleet either.
This was something unusual.
I Googled "snow that looks like Styrofoam pellets" and the word "Graupel" came up. Clicked on a couple of sites and, sure enough, Graupel is what we saw.
I thought it was a perfect reason to do a nature journal entry for the month. The entry nothing fancy - just something to remember what I saw.
So, what is Graupel? Pronounced like "Grap-ul" - it is when droplets of water are collected and freeze on falling snowflakes.
Hail, in contrast, is snow pellets encapsulated by ice.
The word Graupel has German origins, and was first used in 1889. It is the diminutive of "Graupe" which means "pearl barley." That's a fitting description, too, because it did look like pearl barley. It also looked like pearl/large tapioca.
A synonym for Graupel is soft hail.
Here's my nature journal entry for January:
Doing one nature journal entry per month is one of my nature goals for 2017. This year I'm on the right track with nature journaling. Keeping the focus on the process of nature journaling (versus the product) and documenting new things I see may help me stay on task and reach my goal this year.