Winters in Saskatchewan are generally cold and sunny. I love the winter wonderland we get! Of course we all complain occasionally about the ultra deep freeze if it reaches the -30’s or about the length of the season. After all we only have almost-winter, winter, still-winter and summer 🙂 But every now and then we get extra treats like hoarfrost or rime. Winter wonderland on steroids!
What is hoarfrost?
The name hoar comes from Old English and means something like grey hair (I see some variations to this on different sites).
It happens on cold, clear nights where the air gets saturated after cooling down. Ice crystals form and attach to surfaces. If you want more technical explanations, you can look it up on Wikipedia or a weather channel like AccuWeather.
Rime is technically not a form of frost, because it’s supercooled (below freezing point, but not solidifying) water droplets that freeze when they touch surfaces. Sort of like freezing dew. It usually happens when we get (freezing) fog. This rime can be clear ice, hard rime or soft rime. Not to be confused with glace ice, when freezing rain forms a layer of ice.
And when it’s soft rime, the droplets form ice crystals upon touching the surface and look very similar to hoarfrost. It may form into formations or needles into the wind, just like you can see in my picture of the Christmas lights on our soffit.
A few weeks ago we had some freezing fog overnight and woke up to beautiful soft rime on everything! Below are a few pics I took here in our street. I had to wait until the clouds finally started to lift at the end of the day, to get some nice photos with some blue skies in them. In 2018 I used a very similar picture for our Christmas card!