(KTXL) — In the fall and winter months, Sacramento gets most of its rainfall, and depending on the rain, thunderstorms could occur. 

•Video Player Above: Snow falls in the Sierra with more on the way

Snow is also common during the winter months in the Sierra Nevada and its foothills, an area that gets frequent visitors from Sacramento and other parts of Northern California. Occurrence of graupel and hail can fall in those areas due to snow and rain but there’s a difference between the two. 

What is the difference? 

According to the National Weather Service, graupel is snow that melts and becomes supercooled as it falls through a warm surface and forms ice pellets. Graupel is softer than hail, which is pure ice formed in thunderstorms. 

What is graupel? 

The texture of Graupel is soft and wet and forms in a process called riming. The riming process is when supercooled water droplets at a temperature below 32 degrees freeze onto a snow crystal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

If riming is intense, the snow crystal can grow but will remain less than 0.2 inches. Graupel particles are “particularly fragile” and disintegrate when handled, the NOAA said. 

What is hail? 

Hail is frozen raindrops of ice from thunderstorms and the texture is hard and solid, the NWS said. 

According to the NWS, hail forms in strong upward winds in thunderstorms and then fall into the ground before melting. Hail can grow to very large sizes through the collection of water that freezes onto the hailstone’s surface, the NOAA said. Hailstones are at least 0.2 in size.