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What is rime ice? News 5 viewer captures spectacular rime ice formation

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Posted at 9:20 AM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 09:20:36-05

Wintertime and everything that comes with it—snow, ice, slush, you name it—can be a pain, but, occasionally, it can be quite beautiful. On Thursday, a phenomenon called rime ice was spotted by one of our viewers after freezing temperatures.

Our sky cleared out, winds dropped to about 5 mph and temps took a dive. Most spots dipped into the teens and single digits. With moisture still hanging around, freezing fog developed. Fog is water vapor suspended in the air, so when that air is below freezing, the water vapor freezes onto anything it touches, such as a fence, a branch or a bridge. That initial freezing onto a surface starts a chain reaction of more freezing, causing rime ice.

The National Weather Service officially describes rime ice as "an opaque coating of tiny, white, granular ice particles caused by the rapid freezing of supercooled water droplets on impact with an object."

Those droplets freeze onto each other and form those wild shapes.

News 5 viewer Billy Banar shared a photo of rime ice accumulation Thursday morning.

We've had something similar before, Power of 5 meteorologist Trent Magill said.

Hoar frost is similar but not quite the same. Hoar frost is when there is zero wind. The National Weather Service describes it as "a deposit of interlocking crystals formed by direct sublimation on objects, usually those of small diameter freely exposed to the air, such as tree branches, plants, wires, poles, etc."

Clear, calm nights with temps way below zero can actually pull moisture out of the ground.

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Hoar frost forms at Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton, Ohio on Feb. 12, 2014.

Check out these photos from our photojournalist Mike Vielhaber from February 2014. Rime ice and hoar frost are very similar but very different at the same time!

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Hoar frost forms at Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton, Ohio on Feb. 12, 2014.
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Hoar frost forms at Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton, Ohio on Feb. 12, 2014.

RELATED: News 5 viewer captures photo of ice crystal halo

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