That's Not Hail; It's Graupel

Oscar Sunday should be dry

The weird weekend weather across Southern California is introducing a new word to most people's weather glossaries -- graupel.

The frozen precipitation (don't call it hail) consists of "snowflakes or ice crystals and supercooled water droplets frozen together," according to the Weather Channel.

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Graupel pellets -- unlike their larger cousin, hail -- typically fall apart when touched or when they hit the ground.

Burbank, Studio City and Sherman Oaks were just a few areas hit with the short-lived snow pellets.

By mid-afternoon Saturday, downtown and most of central LA remained dry and sunny while dark storm clouds loomed over parts of the valley.

City Councilman Tom LaBonge told KNX he ran into snow flurries Saturday afternoon on Lankershim Boulevard near Universal City. He said the last time it snowed that low in the Los Angeles area was 1949.

Precipitation could continue into Saturday evening, Ryan Kittell of the National Weather Service told City News Servive.

"It is not getting heavier, though, so it is not a hail storm. It is just frozen precipitation that has not had a chance to melt," Kittell said.

Brief heavy snow is possible in the mountains, with another 6-12 inches of the white stuff accumulating, especially at higher elevations, according to NWS.

As a result, a winter storm warning will remain in effect until 9 p.m. for the mountains, while the valleys are under a frost warning until 8 a.m. Sunday. A winter storm warning was canceled for the Antelope Valley, however.

It will also continue to be windy, with west to northwest winds of 20-30 mph, gusting to 45 mph, through Saturday evening.

Brief periods of heavy snow and gusty winds could cause whiteout conditions at times, with visibility near zero, especially above 5,000 feet.

Accumulating snow is expected over the Golden State (5) Freeway and Antelope Valley (14) Freeway through Saturday evening, according to the Weather Service.

The storm dropped 1 to 2 inches of rain in the foothills and about a half-inch in coastal areas.

By Saturday night, the storm should be moving east, but a chance of thunderstorms, rain and snow remain in the forecast through Sunday morning.

By Sunday afternoon, when the stars walk the red carpet at the Oscars, the skies should be clear and sunny, with highs in the mid 50s.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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