Has a storm passed by, and in the aftermath, you peek outside to find the strangest-looking hail you've ever seen? It looks like hail, but unlike actual hail, these balls of ice are soft to the touch – you can easily squish them between your fingers.
That precipitation is called graupel, or more informally, snow pellets. (Or really informally: "Falling Dipping Dots.")
The formation of graupel is a bit complicated – when supercooled water droplets that are actually below 32 degrees freeze onto a snow crystal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.
The "riming" process makes a bit of a tiny growing snowball, which then falls to the ground as soft hail or graupel. Get enough of it, and it can coat the ground to mimic a snowfall.
Graupel is particularly fragile and generally disintegrates when handled, NOAA says.
In most cases, graupel needs temperatures to be 45 degrees or cooler at the surface in order to form.