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'Snow making a sound?' Vancouverite records 'snow' bouncing in rare form

Have you heard of ice pellets?
The Metro Vancouver weather forecast isn't calling for more snow but some interesting precipitation, including ice pellets, have been observed.

Did you observe any snow bouncing on your windshield last night?

Metro Vancouverites were treated to a relatively rare metrological phenomenon called "ice pellets" across parts of the region. 

Local weather enthusiast Ryan Voutilainen recorded a video of the spritely-looking precipitation bouncing off his vehicle. He shared his footage on X, formerly Twitter, remarking that ice pellets typically form when warm air is moving in aloft. 

“Snow” making a sound [and] bouncing off your windshield?" he asked.

Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau said ice pellets are snowflakes or raindrops that fall into a layer that is cold enough that they refreeze. 

On Thursday night, she notes that the "snow kind of wasn't snowflakes but [more like] little balls that bounce and make noise," she told V.I.A. 

When ice pellets are observed, it's a sign there's warm air above the frozen surface. This means the precipitation may be melting slightly on the way down but refreezes before it meets the surface. However, it isn't the same as freezing rain, which freezes the surface on impact, Charbonneau explained.

Metro Vancouver weather forecast includes a warming trend

Ice pellets have a diameter of 5 mm or less and are classified into two types: "hard grains of ice consisting of frozen rain drops or largely melted and refrozen snowflakes," according to Environment Canada's climate glossary.

While ice pellets and freezing rain often "go hand in hand" — with ice pellets forming ahead of the latter — this doesn't always occur. 

The Fraser Valley and a couple of places in Metro Vancouver, including Langley and some parts of Surrey, continue to have a risk of freezing rain Friday. But freezing rain was observed across other parts of the region on Thursday, including Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Charbonneau noted that warm air had moved into the region on Thursday and the warming trend will continue through the weekend.

The Metro Vancouver weather forecast no longer includes snow but you can keep up to date with changes in your neighbourhood with Weatherhood. With over 50 weather stations in the region, you'll get detailed forecasts for your home base and your commute.