Monday, December 22, 2008

It's a Potpourri of Precipitation, If You Will

Wow. We here in Oregon are still freaking out.

Hubby finally slapped on the tire chains, I helped dig out the Explorer, we bundled up the kids, and we headed out in the snow yesterday. We finally made it to church -- better late than never -- and the place was practically empty. Maybe we'll get some special points with The Man upstairs?

While we were out, I said, "We're out of the house, we might as well stay out." There was no way I was going to be stuck in the house all day again. So we headed to the mall. That's when a "heated" (a-hem... pardon the pun) argument broke out at the sporting goods store.

"It's sleet!"

"No, it's hail!"

"That is frozen rain!"

What do I know? The argument just confused me more. What the heck is all this stuff? I know what snow is. I know what rain is. It's the cold stuff in between that this native Californian is trying to figure out. And I couldn't help but laugh that some Oregonians were still debating the issue.

Yahoo! News and the other local newscasters are calling it a "Wintry Mix." Now doesn't that sound nice? Like, a little medley of your favorite winter flavors. How nice. But after 8 days, it doesn't seem all that nice.

Wikipedia describes it as "Rain and snow mixed (called sleet in the United Kingdom and other British English speaking countries, but not in the United States where the term has a different meaning in meteorology) is a precipitation consisting of rain and partially melted snow; it is common where the temperature is slightly above the freezing point (0 °C, 32 °F). This precipitation is soft (unlike ice pellets) and transparent, but it can contain some traces of ice crystals, due to partially fused snowflakes. It is usually a transition phase to pure rain or snow."

Hmm. That actually explains things quite a bit. But who knew there was such a controversy to the terminology. The article goes on to say, "Professional meteorologists tend to shy away from using the term under any circumstances, but radio and television weather reporters use it regularly, the same way wintry mix is used in the United States." I didn't know there was a weatherman "slang" that determined some sort of hierarchy in the meteorolgy world. You learn something new every day.

As I was running (and CRUNCH-CRUNCH-CRUNCHing) after my dog in the backyard, who couldn't for the life of her find a soft, comfy place to poop, and was instead slipping and sliding all over the backyard, I was thinking that it was more like a snowy creme brulee. Hard, glass-like surface on the outside (like burnt, carmelized cream), and soft, powder-like snow underneath (like the custard). Like Annie Lennox says, "It's like walking on broken glass."

Whatever it is... I'm ready for sunshine!


Sweepea said...

You should trademark that phrase before all the weathermen use it!

Marla said...

it's just insane isn't it? were you around about 5 years ago when we had that freak ice/snow storm and the city of portland was shut down for 3 days... it took my 7 hours to get there from Seattle - i was going for work, and got stuck in the holiday inn express on NW Vuaghn for 3 days eating popcorn from the microwave :)

Dad Stuff said...

Very good description. I just use sleet.