Metro Airport gets touch of ‘graupel’

It’s official. A very brief period of rain mixed with sleet hit Metro Detroit late Monday.

Enough to call it ice, says Dave Gurney, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

Or graupel.

Graupel? That’s right. In fact, says Gurney, it’s a better word than sleet to describe what happened Monday and may happen Tuesday morning.

The word that briefly appeared on the service’s website Monday refers to soft hail or snow pellets (or as the Washington Post referred to it in 2014, “the wintry precipitation you’ve never heard of”).

The mixture accompanied a “brief period of heavier rain” at Detroit Metro Airport, Gurney said.

There’s a 30 percent chance of the wintry mix Tuesday when the “next batch” arrives overnight from 5 a.m. through early morning.

There should be no problem for morning commuters, Gurney says. “The ground’s pretty warm,” he said.

The outlook, though, looks clear for trick-or-treaters Tuesday evening, forecasters say.

“There’s certainly a chance to see some snow in the I-94/I-69 corridor,” said Alex Manion, also a meteorologist with the weather service.

The affected areas would be Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, according to the forecast.

Temperatures Tuesday could be as low as 34. The high temperature is expected to be in the lower 40s. There is no accumulation expected except for elevated and grassy areas, said Manion.

The wintry mix is expected to hit its high point by 9 a.m. Tuesday and taper off in the afternoon. In southern Metro Detroit, there is a 20 percent chance of rain. In northern Metro Detroit, drizzle is forecast. It is expected to be dry later Tuesday in time for Halloween trick-or-treating.

Manion expects Wednesday will be dry and temperatures in the mid- to upper 40s in Metro Detroit. There is a chance of rain and snow, with a high of 47. Low is expected to be 43.

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