Atmosphere And Weather

Facts about Snowflakes



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Starting as a child, one begins to be in awe of the snowflake.  This fascination with the snowflake sometimes carries over into adulthood.  How are they formed?  Where do snowflakes come from?  What is the actual shape before they start melting?  How cold does it even have to be for snowflakes to form?  These are all the common questions of the snowflake fancier.  Here are a few basic facts that may answer some of these questions:

1.  Formation-Once it hits about thirty-two degrees outside snowflakes may begin to form.  They start out as cloud droplets that freeze.  This forms somewhat of an ice nucleus.  Then, water droplets freeze around this nucleus.  As the flake falls through different temperatures and humidities, it's shape begins to become intricate.  The droplets start to evaporate, then ice crystals grow. 

2.  Shapes and Sizes-As the snowflakes fall, they can form many shapes and sizes.  They may stick together while falling to form larger snowflakes, or not.  Varying degrees of temperature and humidity affect the actual shapes.  Many snowflakes are 6-folds hexagonal pattern, but not always.  They say no two snowflakes are alike;this would be really hard to prove either way.  Many scientists have been studying this theory.  However, it is nearly impossible for two snowflakes to be formed under the exact same conditions.  This is what would have to happen to have identical snowflakes.  Typically, the colder the temperature outside, the more intricate the snowflake pattern will be.  The humidity during falling will affect these patterns and shapes as well.

3.  Color-Snowflakes typically appear white.  This is because there are so many surfaces to reflect light off of.  The light source(typically the sun)may not reflect clear light, but yellow.  However, the human brain will see it as clear.  Oh, the mysteries of the human brain and snowflakes!

4.  Symbolic Snowflakes-Snowflakes are used symbolically. They are used as decorations for Christmas.  They are also used on signs to indicate cold weather conditions, especially on television weather forecasts.  Snowflakes are especially popular as an activity to make in elementary school classes(some older as well).  They are also used to make the good ole snowball.  No one really cares how many flakes it takes to make one up.  They just want to make the snowball or snowman.  Who doesn't love a good snowball fight or snowman build?

5. Snowflake Scientists-There have been many scientists to study snowflakes.  Some of the more well-known snowflake scientists are Jon Nelson, M. Klesius(National Geographic), and Kenneth Libbrecht(American Educator).  So many scientists have contributed to the truth about snowflakes.

Aside from the scientific part of it, snowflakes are a sign of winter fun.  Not just for the young, but a pleasant reminder for the older snowflake enthusiasts.  The facts about snowflakes could be explained alot more complicated.  However, that is just not necessary to get a good idea of how snowflakes form and work.

http:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/snowflake

http:/chemistry.about.com/od/moleculescompound/a/snowflake.htm

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