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Rime Ice or Hoar Frost? Calling all Frost Experts!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rime Ice or Hoar Frost? Calling all Frost Experts!

Greetings from Norway, I mean, Nebraska!

On Thursday night, after a couple days of melting ice and cold nights, and after a weak cold front moved through, saturated air near the surface brought foggy conditions to our neighborhood. On Friday morning, I saw our trees covered in heavy frost.

From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
Pretty isn't it?

Upon a closer look...
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
...I noticed the ice was forming into long needles, all oriented in one direction.

I had to trudge through knee-deep drifts that we still had in our front yard to get these pictures, but they're definitely worth it.

My first thought was that this is rime icing, or rime-type frost. Defined in Wikipedia as "a type of frost that occurs quickly, often under conditions of heavily saturated air and windy conditions. Ships traveling through Arctic seas may accumulate rime on the rigging. Unlike hoar frost, which has a feathery appearance, rime generally has an icy solid appearance. In contrast to the formation of hoar frost, in which the water vapor condenses slowly and directly into icy feathers, Rime typically goes through a liquid phase where the surface is wet by condensation before freezing."

The temperature range was right for rime ice, as were the saturation conditions and winds, which drive the direction of ice formation.

But Dave told me there were discussions as to whether this was a phenomena called "hoar frost".

No, not "whore frost". I don't even want to go there.

Might this be "hoarfrost" or "hoar frost", which is also mentioned in that Wikipedia link above? When hoar frost conditions have a slight breeze they can orient their formation in one particular direction. But according to the definition and pictures here, I'm less inclined to think so.

I think what we have is actually "soft rime". What I saw and experienced fit all of these definitions, the thin, milky white needles, and the ease with which is fell off the trees in the slightest breeze.

The winds were from a northerly direction Thursday night, if there was a wind at all. So according to the definition, the needles should be pointing towards the north, and indeed they were.

So I think this is "soft rime", but take a look at these other pictures and see what you think:
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?


UPDATE: On Saturday morning, the same conditions turned out even heavier rime, and I just took a few pictures and will add them momentarily.

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1 Comments:

At Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 2:45:00 AM CST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Major Mom, I think you nailed it on your assessment of what type of frost you so expertly caught on those trees!

I see Wikipedia thinks the experts are over thinking this subject and just wants to lump frost all together.

I only found you because I was pondering the same question with a shot I took today in Alaska where I am from. You can see that shot and others if you google akd200 which will go to my flicker site!

 

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