by Melissa Burdick
There was a slight hoarfrost throughout the countryside this morning which made for some spectacular photos. But it got me thinking, just what is hoarfrost?
Besides a word that sets off lots of giggling in high school English classes, hoarfrost is defined as “a grayish-white crystalline deposit of frozen water vapor formed in clear still weather on vegetation, fences, etc.” Which is a definition that’s just fine if you’re not a romantic at heart. I prefer the Old English definition: “expressing the resemblance of white feathers of frost to an old man’s beard.” Yup, that sounds about right.
According to the Weather Channel, frost forms when water vapor in the air touches a surface that is at or below the freezing point. The vapor goes instantly from gas to solid form and, voila!, frost.
Hoarfrost, though, results when there is lots of moisture in the air. The abundance of moisture and freezing temperatures allow extensive crystalline structures of ice to form on blades of grass, twigs, and foliage. Spring and fall are typical times when the factors of abundant air moisture and cold temperatures coincide to create this beautiful phenomenon.