On Friday, graupel appeared in Peter Planament's backyard, as well as many others; leading people to believe it was hail when it was not. Staff Writer / Peter Planamente.

I cannot believe that spring is finally here! I think it is safe to say that the snow is gone, and I hope we will not see it again for a long while. Pretty soon, we will be packing away the sweaters and scarves and replacing them with shorts and flip-flops.

If you live around here, you know how goofy our weather can be. March and April typically act like that drunk uncle we all avoid at family events, sloppy and obnoxious. One day, we are all walking around campus with shorts, then the next day we are bundled up with every piece of clothing possible.

During our spring break last week, we had a few nice weather days in New Jersey. We actually made it up into the 60s on Friday. Of course, that had to be ruined by a cold front that gave us rain and dropped our temperatures back below normal.

As I was sitting at home trying to finish an assignment, I started hearing a monsoon of ice hitting my house. I jumped up, looked out my window and found my backyard covered in pellets. It literally looked like we had a snowstorm.

I quickly grabbed my camera and ran outside in my pajamas (yes, I was in my pajamas at 7 p.m. on a Friday because I have no life) and was being pelted in the head while trying to snap some pictures.

I quickly realized that we were not getting hail, as many people proclaimed all over social media. We had a pretty cool phenomenon called “graupel.” Graupel occurs when the atmosphere is really cold and forms water droplets that freeze and collect on top of falling snowflakes. This turns into little ice pellets, similar to hail or sleet, that do not have time to evaporate before it reaches the ground. You can tell the difference between hail and graupel by checking the texture. Hail is usually as hard as an ice cube, while graupel is soft and slushy.

Something interesting that I noticed was that the air temperature dropped a few degrees before and after the graupel fell. My thermometer was sitting at 46 degrees, but dropped to 41 degrees when the graupel stopped. In situations like this, sometimes there is a downburst of cold air that travels from our atmosphere and reaches the ground.

It is not common that we see this phenomenon around here, but it has happened in the past. The last time I remember this happening was when I was a freshman in high school back in 2011. I talked to my science teacher about it and he had no idea what it was. Funny, the student taught the science teacher about science.

While it does look likely that spring weather is in our near future, I do expect some temperature drops through April. You can thank those pesky cold fronts that make us go from 70 degrees to 50 degrees within 24 hours. Remember though, our normal high temperature this time of year is in the 50s, so we shouldn’t get hype about the beach just yet.

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