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Portions of Western Maryland experience new kind of precipitation

Graupel is formed when snow starts to evaporate when it is falling, but then picks up moisture as it nears the ground

April 11, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

Winter left a few late memories Wednesday when an icy substance known as “graupel” fell across portions of Western Maryland, according to the National Weather Service.

Graupel is formed when snow starts to evaporate when it is falling, but then picks up moisture as it nears the ground, said Stephen Konarik, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

When graupel hits the ground, it looks like a pellet. But unlike sleet, which is clear, graupel is white, Konarik said.

The substance was falling throughout regions north and west of Washington, D.C., including mountainous areas close to Camp David in Frederick County, he said.

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“When it comes down, it will be moderate or heavy,” said Konarik, who noted that there was no accumulation Wednesday.

Bev Coyle, public relations manager for the Fort Ritchie Community Center in Cascade, Md., said she watched a white, frozen substance falling from the sky periodically outside the center Wednesday afternoon.

Nothing accumulated on the ground, Coyle said.

“I was glad,” she said.

The unusual weather was being caused by a low-pressure system that was passing through the area, Konarik said.

The mercury was forecast to drop to 33 degrees Wednesday night, and the low tonight is expected to be around 34 degrees, according to the weather service.

Temperatures are then expected to start moderating with a low temperature Friday night of 43 degrees and a low Saturday night of 48 degrees.

Daytime conditions today through Saturday will range from mostly sunny to partly sunny, with highs from 57 to 67 degrees.

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