For some people, snow may be an annoyance, but for others, the sight of snow is just magical—whether they get to go skiing or snowboarding, make a snowman, or enjoy an additional day off from school.
Here are seven things about the most typical winter precipitation you might not know.
1. Snow cannot form without pollen or dust in the atmosphere.
A very cold water droplet freezing onto a pollen or dust particle in the atmosphere is the initial stage in the production of a snowflake. As a result, an ice crystal forms.
The initial ice crystal is then coated with water vapor as it falls toward the earth, creating different crystals that form the snowflake’s six sides.
2. Each snowflake has six arms or sides.
A snowflake contains two hydrogens and one oxygen atom, comprised of frozen water (H2O). Since water molecules have a V form, a hexagonal structure results from their alignment and freezing.
The shape of a snowflake does not alter as more water molecules are added since they are distributed evenly throughout the hexagon. The snowflake instead gets bigger while keeping its six sides.
3. Different snowflakes appear differently.
Each snowflake travels down to the ground along a slightly distinct path, exposing it to slightly variable atmospheric conditions.
According to the National Weather Service, each flake consequently has its own appearance, resembling everything from prisms and needles to the well-known lacy pattern.
4. When temperatures are above freezing, snow may occur.
Even with surface temperatures as high as 50 degrees, snow can still fall, but only under ideal environmental circumstances.
It may occur if the warm layer of air immediately above the ground is skinny, preventing the snowflakes from falling from the clouds from melting before they hit the ground.
The temperature will fall when it snows, and the temperature is above freezing. The temperature will drop to close to 32 degrees if snow falls heavily. It results from cooling processes like melting and evaporation.
When the snow is relatively heavy and the air is dehydrated, since more evaporation will occur in the dry air, there is the best probability of seeing snow that is 50 degrees.
5. Snow can never be too cold.
Although snow can fall at temperatures up to 50 degrees, it is just too warm for snow to fall at greater temperatures.
Snow, however, can never be too cold. There is a possibility of snow whether the temperature is 30 below or 30 above zero.
6. Snow isn’t always white.
Although snow gathers on the ground and seems white when it falls from the skies, it is transparent. It is because snow is made up of microscopic, translucent ice crystals.
According to ScienceNotes.org, light is bent when it passes through a translucent substance. Therefore when light strikes a snowflake, it is bent and spread across the visible light spectrum by the facets and flaws in each crystal.
Similar to how a pile of sugar or salt seems white even if each crystal is transparent, scattering causes light to appear white.
7. A snowflake travels to the earth in approximately one hour.
The majority of snowflakes fall at velocities between 1 and 4 mph, according to the United Kingdom’s Met Office. However, this varies depending on each snowflake’s size, mass, and climatic circumstances.
The Met Office reported that while the largest, heaviest snowflakes can travel at speeds of up to 9 mph, the average flake travels at a rate of about 1.5 mph and takes an hour to reach the ground.