Some days, it’s all about wishing for warmer weather, sun peeking out, birds tweeting and other days, you just go with the chill. Today is one of those days.
I’ve always had a fascination with formation of snowflakes – to the point where I wished I could carry a microscope around with me so I could zoom in on their beautiful shapes. That didn’t happen, so this is the next best bet on uncovering the mystery.
*A snowflake has three basic ingredients: ice crystals, water vapour and dust. The ice crystals form as water vapour freezes on a bit of microscopic dust.
Scientists estimate the chances of two snowflakes being exactly alike are about 1 in 1 million trillion. Meteorologists think that there are 1 trillion, trillion, trillion different types of snowflakes.
The dust particles can come from many different places, including flower pollen, volcanic ash, and even celestial bodies such as meteors.
Snow forms in very cold clouds containing water droplets and ice crystals. As water droplets attach themselves to ice crystals, they freeze, creating an even larger ice crystal.
In any crystal, molecules line up in a pattern. In ice crystals, water molecules line up and form a hexagon. This is why all snowflakes are six-sided.
The temperature of the cloud it forms in determines the shape of an ice crystal. Likewise, the amount of moisture in the cloud determines the size of the ice crystal.
More moisture will create a bigger crystal. When several ice crystals stick together, they form a snowflake.
As snowflakes tumble through the air, swirling and spiralling, they each take a different path to the ground. Each snowflake falls and floats through clouds with different temperatures and moisture levels, which shapes each snowflake in a unique way.
Even though two snowflakes may form in the same cloud, their different journeys to the ground will affect their shape and size, giving each snowflake its own unique identity.
Now you know. Or perhaps you knew already, but now you know more? Anyhow, while you’re still trudging through the slush, hopefully this’ll give you something to appreciate about the magical snowflake.
*extracts from an article at Erepolis.org