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Notes on this morning's Diamond Dust
(Statement made Jan 2, 2018, by Keno)
Since more than one person wrote me this morning about the diamond dust that fell this morning, let me explain just how rare it really is.
It could be argued that diamond dust (aka ice crystals, aka DD) isn't a rare occurrence for the greater Crestone area. But it's been about 2 or 3 years since the last time we've seen them here, and if you only see such precipitation once every few years at the most, then it's rare!
Truth being, DD is rare everywhere (other than in Antarctica) - even in places like Crestone where we do get to see them float around our skies every so often. Only 8 other U.S. states besides here in Colorado have noted them in past weather reports. They are magical looking when they fall, in part because they form from out of a clear blue sky above. DD is known as the only form of precipitation that does this, and its earned the name "clear sky precipitation" since it's the only such form of precip that does this anywhere on Earth.
To have diamond dust occur, conditions must be just right. Below zero temps are a must for it to form (it was -9°F this morning when the DD started to fall here). If you live out in the valley, where there was freezing fog this morning, you didn't get to see the DD that we saw in the foothills and mountains this morning. The other strange thing about DD is that it's considered "a cloud composed of tiny ice crystals that forms near the ground", a lot like how fog forms, minus the ice crystals - but when fog forms in this matter, it isn't considered true precipitation, while DD is.
The other rare thing about DD is that it usually doesn't accumulate on the ground to where you can measure it, other than weather observers are trained to list it as a trace of snow. But this morning here, we had 0.1 of an inch of it on the snow board, and I know for a fact that normal snow didn't fall here overnight, and yes, the overhead skies were clear for the entire time. Since your local weatherman keeps very unusual hours, I was awake for the entire event, and yes it was cool to watch come down.
The most accumated DD I've heard of outside of the Artic, is 0.3 of an
inch (recorded in a few places). Other than at Plateau Weather Station
in Antarctica - where there, accumulating DD is common, with it being seen on an average
316 days a year there, with a note that 70% of the precipitation that fell
at Plateau Station in one year (recorded in 1967) fell in the form of
diamond dust. So yes, only there does it accumulate a lot and often
enough. So the 0.1 of an inch recorded this morning here would be
considered a blizzard of diamond dust, for sure!
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