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What's that falling from the sky? Graupel, and here's what it is

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Posted at 7:43 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 19:51:36-04

(WXYZ) — Those in metro Detroit on Thursday have probably seen blasts of what appears to be hail falling from the sky, but it's actually called graupel.

According to the National Weather Service, graupel are very small pellets that are actually snowflakes that collect chilled water droplets on the outer service.

On a day like today, where it's above freezing on the surface but below freezing in the air, graupel are common.

Hail, on the other hand, are balls of ice from thunderstorms when strong upward winds loft raindrops into the below freezing area of a thunderstorm, and sleet is liquid precipitation that freezes before reaching the ground.