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Aviation Glossary :: Ice Pellets  Aviation Glossary :: Ice Pellets FAA Written Test Preparation
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At Dauntless, our editorial staff maintains the web's largest unified glossary of aviation terms. This glossary is built from a combination of official, quasi-official, and proprietary sources (including original material that we develop oursselves). Uniquely, we often provide multiple definitions of a given term so that you can find that which best applies to you. In order to maximize your learning efficiency, this glossary (and similar ones for our international users) is incresingly fully integrated into our aviation learning apps, including our FAA written test prep and FAA practical test prep software and apps. If you like this glossary, you'll love them with their polished learning environments and world's best and clearest content (please do give them a try.).

Ice Pellets
Ice Pellets
Small, transparent or translucent, round or irregularly shaped pellets of ice. They may be (1) hard grains that rebound on striking a hard surface or (2) pellets of snow encased in ice.
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source: FAA Aviation Weather for Pilots (AC 00-6A)

(abbrev. IP) Same as Sleet; defined as pellets of ice composed of frozen or mostly frozen raindrops or refrozen partially melted snowflakes. These pellets of ice usually bounce after hitting the ground or other hard surfaces. A Winter Storm Warning is issued for sleet or a combination of sleet and snow based on total accumulation which is locally defined by area.
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source: NOAA National Weather Service Glossary

Ice pellets are a form of precipitation consisting of small, translucent balls of ice. Ice pellets are smaller than hailstones which form in thunderstorms rather than in winter, and are different from graupel ("soft hail") which is made of frosty white rime, and from a mixture of rain and snow which is a slushy liquid or semisolid. Ice pellets often bounce when they hit the ground or other solid objects, and make a higher-pitched "tap" when striking objects like jackets, windshields, and dried leaves, compared to the dull splat of liquid raindrops. Pellets generally do not freeze into a solid mass unless mixed with freezing rain. The METAR code for ice pellets is PL

Ice pellets are known to Americans as sleet, the official term used by the U.S. National Weather Service. However, in most Commonwealth countries the term sleet refers to a mixture of rain and snow. Because of this, Environment Canada never uses the term sleet, and uses the terms "ice pellets" or "wet snow" instead.

Ice pellets form when a layer of above-freezing air is located between 1,500 and 3,000 meters (5,000 and 10,000 ft) above the ground, with sub-freezing air both above and below it. This causes the partial or complete melting of any snowflakes falling through the warm layer (the French term for sleet, neige fondue, literally means "melted snow" because of this). As they fall back into the sub-freezing layer closer to the surface, they re-freeze into ice pellets. However, if the sub-freezing layer beneath the warm layer is too small, the precipitation will not have time to re-freeze before hitting the surface, so it will become freezing rain. A temperature profile showing a warm layer above the ground is most likely to be found in advance of a warm front during the cold season, but can occasionally be found behind a passing cold front, and often with a stationary front.

In most parts of the world, ice pellets only occur for brief periods and do not accumulate a significant amount. However, across the eastern United States and southeastern Canada, warm air flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico ahead of a strong synoptic-scale storm system can overrun cold, dense air at the surface for many hundreds of miles for an extended period of time. In these areas, ice pellet accumulations of 2–5 cm (0.8–2.0 in) are not unheard of. The effects of a significant accumulation of ice pellets are not unlike an accumulation of snow. One significant difference is that for the same volume of snow, an equal volume of ice pellets is significantly heavier and thus more difficult to clear away. Additionally, a volume of ice pellets takes significantly longer to melt compared to an equal volume of fresh snowfall.

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source: Wikitionary / Wikipedia and Related Sources (Edited)


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Disclaimer: While this glossary in most cases is likely to be highly accurate and useful, sometimes, for any number of editorial, transcription, technical, and other reasons, it might not be. Additionally, as somtimes you may have found yourself brought to this page through an automated term matching system, you may find definitions here that do not match the cotext or application in which you saw the original term. Please use your good judgement when using this resource.


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