If you live in New York City, then you know that we have way more seasons than we deserve. Currently, it is mid-March, meaning that — on the meme scale — we have exited (or have we?!) the “spring of deception” and moved into “third winter,” a period of erratic and often confusing weather events. Inexcusable winds gusting with palpable violence? Check! Severely dry conditions that prompt AccuWeather to send push alerts about an active brush fire threat in Brooklyn?? Also check! A barrage of freaky, ice-studded snowflakes formed via meteorological “riming”??? Check, and apparently these are headed our way imminently!
Per John Davitt, chief meteorologist for NY1, the graupel blitz could happen tonight, meaning, we could see some bewildering precipitation that is not quite sleet and not quite snow. To quote the National Severe Storms Laboratory, graupel are “soft, small pellets formed when supercooled water droplets (at a temperature below 32° Fahrenheit) freeze onto a snow crystal.” Intense “riming” causes the graupel to grow in size, sometimes to “appreciable size.” See this pic of a robust, thoroughly rimed graupel as evidence.
Mercifully, I think, graupel generally dissolve on contact. According to Davitt, their consistency “is like dippin dots,” i.e., those tiny ice-cream balls that taste like freezer and would probably still hurt if they got you in the eye. But then, when you consider other items NYC might hurl at those who dare to brave its elements — ammo such as pigeons, trash, rogue umbrellas (both regular and beach), fallen debris from above-ground subways, improperly anchored window A/Cs, to name just a few likely suspects — a pelting by little dessert BBs does not sound so bad. It sounds comparatively benign, nice even, a gentle pummeling of your touch-starved bod by a thousand tiny dairy fists. Get out there and enjoy the riming!