Snow flakes are a source of ongoing wonder to those who ponder their shapes and who try to make sense out of them, and to those who place them in some kind of order. And to be certain, they are the least likeliest of subject matter for classification. One thing they appear to have in common is their six points or sides which are symmetrical, other than that they appear quite distinct. Of course the distinction is due to climatic changes and how they are frozen. Ever notice the lacy look to frost crystals outside windows in the heart of winter? Or how they form on the outside of window panes. Snow is formed by the same kind of weather, and by the same method. It all depends on the varying amounts of wetness and dryness.
How do they form? They are droplets of water that form when the air cools and dries. The temperature surrounding them is cold enough to freeze water, but at the same time, the water in the air is becoming drier.The amount of water that is present in the drop when it freezes make it into the drier or wetter snow flake that it becomes. It is all according to the weather, actually.
The water droplets that have individually frozen into a minute speck, get together with other frozen droplets and cling together forming the particular shape of the snow flake. And they are ever changing, even as they age, and this is brought about the temperature, the humidity, and the dryness or wetness of the surrounding air.
And the amazing part is that no two snowflakes are alike.This hardly seems possible since snow is so proliferate. Well, let us put it this way. If somewhere in the wide world, two snowflakes are alike, who would ever know about it? This is so because in the formation of the snow crystal, no two are exactly alike, one may have had a little more moisture, or a little less moisture in the air than its neighbor at its formation. Their environment may not have been under the same exact weather condition and therefore their crystals would naturally be different.
Their differences too have everything to do with the amount of crystals each snow flake has, from two to many hundreds. Scientists speak of snowflakes metamorphosing as they age, or changing, as has already been explained. Their basic shapes that appear almost alike but aren't, are dendrites, sector plates, hollow columns, and needles.
The reasoning behind their varied shapes are determined by the speed of the air that moves them and its directional shift, the moisture in the air, the length of time it takes to get to the earth, the particles in the atmosphere it picks up on its long journey downward, the weight of its surrounding crystals, how the different flakes bond together, and any other changes the snowflake might encounter on its way to earth.
When trying to determine how a particular shape happens, consider the four shapes and how each contributes to the overall snowflake design. The crystal does not begin as a dendrite but morphs into it after needles and plates get together. The plates could be the more solid forms and after having several needle jab and punch holes in it at the bonding stage, and after the hollow columns have formed around in a pattern, it begins to take on the shape of a dendrite.
A dendrite is descriptive of a cell fiber, and has a nucleus, or a beginning center that has other fibers bonding to its center. Its the attraction of these that cause them to come together. It is in truth, the actual way the whole world was put together, and this pattern is followed throughout. It is all still there, but is forever changing, reforming, breaking apart, discaring, picking up, and on and on.
In a playful mode, one could almost conclude that snow flakes are to the atmosphere, what flaky dried skin is to a human. Both drop and shed making room for renewal, while in themselves returning to the source and once again reforming, reuniting, supplying. The snow melts into water and separates from the dust and the particles that it collected while forming, and in time is drawn back up by th sun; the flaked skin merging with some other particles to from something other that is devoid of moisture and remaining part of the earth. A crude example, perhaps, but the beauty of it is its efficiency, and its ongoing capacity.
And who among us cannot say snowfalls and individual snow flakes are not beautiful, delightful, fascinating, aggravating, annoying and downright destructive at times. And yes, hard to analyze. Such is life.