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Sleet, Hail or Graupel?

Tuesday saw the return of a little wintry weather with Milwaukee officially picking up a trace of snow. Some northern communities in Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties did see a dusting of snow early this morning.

By 9 AM people went to social media asking whether snow or rain or sleet or hail was falling. The answer - none of the above.

Graupel is probably the least known winter precip, but it definitely exists. The American Meteorological Society defines graupel as \"heavily rimed snow particles, often called snow pellets; often indistinguishable from very small soft hail except for the size convention that hail must have a diameter greater than 5 mm.\" The best way to tell the difference between sleet, hail and graupel is by touching and closely looking at it. Sleet is typically hard and clear, hail is also hard but typically has a milky look to it, graupel also looks milky but is typically soft. The best comparison of graupel is that it looks like Dippin Dots! 


Whenever in doubt, sleet, hail and graupel can all be lumped under the category of ice pellets!

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