Stats Made Easy

Practical Tools for Effective Experimentation

Monday, February 26, 2007

Graupeling for words to describe nature's emanations

Late Friday I took a call from a client in Hawaii. All day long here in Minnesota the weather forecasters had been harping about the dire prospects for over a foot of snow. The Hawaiian sounded skeptical when I told him of my positive view on these developments. Believe it or not, many of us Minnesotans enjoy the opportunity to ski, snowmobile and just revel in the contrast of winter with our other three seasons.

The first round of snow hit that evening. It was quite unusual – pelletized like Dippin Dots or IttiBitz ice cream, created by flash freezing the sugary dairy mix in liquid nitrogen. Something similar must have occurred naturally over my home town of Stillwater. The American Meteorology Society (AMS) describes this frozen phenomenon as graupel. Evidently it’s a cousin of hail, which we see in the summer-time when thunder storms become severe. This graupel was great for shoveling. I’ve got a low-tech, but amazingly effective, snow scooper, which just pushed it out the way and, with a quick twist, dumped it over. The pellets just poured right out.

That was only the first wave of the storm. Over the next 24 hours, another half-foot of snow fell. The neighbor across the street was really fired up about getting his snow blower running for the first time this year and promised to shovel my driveway after all was done with this winter storm. However, it took so long to start the disused engine, that I scooped him.

Getting back to Hawaii (a very attractive thought at the moment), I once visited their namesake “Big Island” and saw lots of lava from Kilauea. There I learned that Hawaiians differentiate flows as “aa” – rough, versus “pahoehoe” – smooth. (See details by volcanologist J. M. Rhodes.)

Having hand-shoveled snow for half a century, I can readily characterize their types. However, I must hand it to the Hawaiians for putting words to what Mother Nature puts in ones path. More snow is forecast later this week for Minnesota. I predict that this may precipitate many Minnesotans to have an "Aa, ha" and book an impromptu getaway to Hawaii or another warm State!


Post a Comment

<< Home