Tuesday, March 9, 2010


The word for the day is...graupel. Even the spellchecker doesn't know what to do with it.

From Wikipedia (the ultimate source for all things!):   Graupel (also called small hail, soft hail, or snow pellets; METAR  code: GS)[1]  refers to precipitation that forms when supercooled droplets of water condense on a snowflake, forming a 2–5 mm ball of rime; the snowflake acts as a nucleus of condensation in this process. Graupel is the German word for this meteorological phenomenon.

I took the cage today. Today's weather report excludes bike riding for me. Snow, hail, and cold: All of these are ingredients for a mess I'm not prepared to deal with.

I didn't know it, but I ran into a shower(?) of graupel this afternoon.  (No pics, I was on the freeway.) I didn't know what it was at the time, but when I got home the cheery meteorologist informed me that that weird, powdery, hail-like stuff is graupel. This is the same meteorologist who can make a hurricane sound cheerful. Anyway, I was glad to be in the cage for once. 

I stopped for a couple pics before heading home.

Snow on Snow Peak
Ominous cloud hovering over the valley.
(Could it be the source of the graupel?)


  1. I noticed Snow Peak yesterday, too. I rode in what I thought was Graupel in town yesterday. Turns out it wasn't. The pellets were larger than 5mm!

  2. No Graupel for me thank you. I was a cager too but it turned out kind of nice in Portland all day yesterday. By the time I got home there were reports of hail (Graupel) so I could've taken the bike.

    Thanks for the info on this. Hopefully we won't have to deal with it again for a while. :)

  3. Being familiar with the word (since I am German) I would have called the icy precipitation something like snow pellets, too. Interesting that the word made it into the English vocabulary.
    No graupel in Vancouver! Cheers, Sonja

  4. Hi Irondad,
    Ouch! The pellets sound painful! Glad you made it home safe. I figured a little graupel wouldn't keep you off the bike. :)

    Hi Mike,
    I hate it when I take the car and the day turns out nice enough to ride. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

  5. Hi Sonja,
    I'm not sure how long it's been a part of the English vocabulary...I'd never heard the term until last night on the news.

    Still, after using it about a dozen times in this post I don't think I'll ever forget it! :)

  6. Well, I'm glad you were in the cage Kari! Nope I can't say I've heard of that term. I'd probably say something like "did you see that crap coming out of the sky!!"
    Hope that is the last of the graupel in your area for a long time to come.

  7. Hi Eve,
    I hadn't heard the term either until later. I thought the same thing...what is that? It looked like hail until it hit the ground then it looked like a powdering of tiny Styrofoam pills. It floated around in the breeze rather than coating the road. It finally did coat the road though. Yes hopefully it's done for this year. :)