Mother Nature brings Northern Michigan diamond dust along with her cold temperatures

Feb 25, 2015

Mother Nature, with her cold temperatures, is turning out diamond dust in Northern Michigan.

A sun dog caused by diamond dust.

Justin Arnott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord, described diamond dust as “the wintertime version of fog.”

It’s made of very small ice crystals which form in the air when temperatures become extremely cold.

In addition to the extreme cold – around 20 or 30 degrees below zero – clear skies are also an indicator of prime conditions for diamond dust.

“The other thing you might notice is kind of the optical effects that this diamond dust causes, that can be very noticeable and sometimes more noticeable than we might see with snowfall,” Arnott said.

He mentioned light pillars – which will stem from any type of light present in the early morning – and “sun dogs,” which appear as large, radiant areas around each side of the sun once it rises.

Diamond dust is much smaller than snowflakes. This difference in size is attributed to the fact that diamond dust is formed under those extremely low temperatures, which allow less moisture in the air.

“And it can be a little eerie sometimes,” Arnott said. “You go out there and you kind of see lights that you don’t necessarily expect – and even before the sun comes up. So yeah, it’s beautiful but it is a little bit of a reward for dealing with the cold we’ve been dealing with so far this winter.”

See Mother Nature's diamond dust in action here.