Nature paints a winter day

Trees throughout the Wichita metropolitan area glittered with ice crystals Tuesday morning, as a layer of hoarfrost applied a fresh glaze to the region. Many residents couldn't resist pulling out their camera or cell phone and snapping photos to record the view.

"It was a beautiful winter wonderland on my walk this morning," Jennifer Wright said via Twitter on Tuesday morning.

Temperatures in the 20s, a thick fog, abundant moisture and the absence of wind set the stage for hoarfrost to develop.

"It's so moist out there and it's just cold enough we're getting ice crystal formation," said Andy Kleinsasser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "It seems a few times a winter we get really good hoarfrost."

Hoarfrost is often called "furry ice" because of its appearance. It is not frozen dew, however.

Dew that freezes is clear. Hoarfrost looks like needles of ice that have sprouted from the branches, leaves or other elevated surfaces on which it has formed.

The dense fog and little to no wind are key, Kleinsasser said, because the air has to be moist enough and still enough for the ice crystals to form.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle