We’ve had a little snow this week, not much, but it did cover the shrubs and grounds with a heavy moist snowfall. I was surprised to see snowplows clearing the roads and sanding for this small amount that fell. They knew much more than we knew. The next morning was a drive-at-your-own-risk in getting to work. Temperatures had quickly plunged during the night and black ice warnings were everywhere early in the day. We read and saw photos of cars in ditches in our area, spin-outs, flipped, collisions, all due to the ice on the roads. It was the perfect storm for dreaded black ice.
Conditions were perfect for another interesting phenomena…. hoarfrost. We’ve all seen it but maybe you didn’t know it had a name. Hoarfrost forms on cold, clear nights with high moisture content and very little wind.
What happened: Our wet snowfall began to melt and added humidity to the air. The frigid night air caused water vapor molecules to attach to freezing surfaces, coating everything with tiny ice crystals. If conditions are right with more moisture in the air, the crystals can be quite long and feathery. Ours were tiny but, still everything glittered brightly in the morning light.
As the sun rose through the trees, I could see the delicate crystals in the sunlight so I walked out to see if I could capture some photos. I had to hurry because as soon as the sun rises, the crystals melt. It was already happening.