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Rime Ice: What is it?

If you looked at some of our mountain tops and thought- hey it snowed! Well... kinda. There likely was some snow up there but a lot of what you see from afar is rime ice.

At the top of the mountains a few thousand feet up the air is below freezing. However, water stays in a vapor/liquid form in the atmosphere until about 14 degrees. So, these 'supercooled' water droplets formed. 'Supercooled' refers to something that's below freezing but hasn't yet crystallized.



When these 'supercooled' drops come into contact with something, like trees on a mountain, they freeze and crystalize upon contact. This happens a lot on Holston Mountain, Whitetop, Black Mountain, Pine Mountain and the Unaka Mountains.


Rime ice can pose serious threats to aviation if it accumulates on the wings of aircraft. Ice disrupts the air flow over the winds, causing a loss of lift.

This isn't incredibly rare. In fact, it's fairly common to see this in the late fall and winter in our area. Spring... not so much, but hey, this winter just won't end!


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