While the minds at Oxford and Merriam Webster have already chosen selfie and science respectively as the 2013 words of the year, the word that stuck in my head this year was graupel. Just when I thought my local news stations were done replacing the simplistic descriptions of weather phenomena with more worldly terms, they pulled out this gem in February 2013.
What is graupel? It’s pretty much hail, except it is technically not hail. It is a type of precipitation between hail and snow. Also, using the word graupel sounds much more scientific than describing these icy pieces of water as ice pellets. According to Merriam Webster, graupel is specifically soft hail (although I am sure meteorological organizations have a more technical description that would dispute the definition as soft hail). Also, I just realized I used a form of Merriam Webster’s word of the year in the past sentence. Dang you Merriam Webster!
Let me use it in a sentence. I came home one fine February evening and discovered my yard covered in graupel. Did that help you understand graupel? No? Let me try another sentence. Despite the blanket of icy graupel covering the elephant’s ear, the plant survived.
Graupel kinda does look like snow when its bunched together. Also, this plant is amazing. It has survived below freezing weather as well as 120 degree Fahrenheit days.
This is my word of the year because the TV stations around here used the word like crazy anytime we had hail-like precipitation. I’m still a bit confused, but I have to say, soft hail makes sense because it sure doesn’t hurt the way hail does when it falls on you. Also, the chance of graupel falling in my area is much higher than the chance snow will fall. So while there is a snowball’s chance in hell I’ll ever have to shovel snow, there is a very good possibility my lawn may become blanketed in graupel this month.
If you are lucky enough to have graupel falling in your area, go forth and have a graupel fight with graupel balls. Or build a graupel-man. When you become a bit parched, enjoy a cherry flavored graupel cone.