What is rime ice?

Supercooled water droplets freeze on contact on area trees and street signs.
Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 8:51 AM CST
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Rime has built up as much as 2" in some areas.
Rime has built up as much as 2" in some areas.(Mike Ortiz)

By now you’ve probably seen the beauty of ice building up on area trees and street signs, but what is it exactly? Well you probably guessed ice, but more correctly it is “rime” ice. Rime ice occurs when supercooled water droplets freeze on contact. Supercooled water droplets are still in liquid state when temperatures are below the freezing point (32ºF). This past two mornings have featured a lot of fog and lots of supercooled water droplets within that fog. Thus, a build of rime ice has occurred across our area. This round is some of most impressive rime ice our area has seen in years.

Rime ice differs from “hoar” frost in the way they are made. While they may look similar, rime ice goes from supercooled liquid to solid state, while hoar frost goes from gas state straight to a solid state (ice) in a process called deposition.

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