Rare kind of snowflakes cover Moscow

An intense graupel shower has hit the streets of the Russian capital, postponing the arrival of spring and freezing the hearts of warmth-loving Muscovites.

In 2010 Moscow saw it all in terms of weather – from deadly heat in August that caused massive peat fires all over central Russia to freezing rain in December that paralyzed the work of the capital’s biggest airports.

This year is evidently set to continue the trend. This time, Muscovites have encountered a rare kind of precipitation known as graupel, or snow pellets.

Specialists from the Moscow Meteorological Center say graupel forms when super-cooled droplets of water condense on a snowflake, forming a 2–5 millimeter ball of rime. The snowflake acts as a nucleus of condensation. Unlike hail, graupel forms fragile, oblong shapes. It will typically fall apart when touched.

Meteorologists say that graupel is normally the messenger of forthcoming spring. After graupel, it usually becomes warmer and milder.

However, this time long-suffering Muscovites should not hope for an easy victory over winter. The cold spell is set to continue throughout the week – temperatures will drop to -13 Celsius at night and zero during the day, and a mix of snow and rain is expected, with wind speeds increasing up to 20 miles per hour.

Weather specialists say the Russian capital should not expect warm weather until mid-April.

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