7 cool facts about snowflakes
By Mary Daly
January 04, 2019, 1:28:27 PM EST
You catch them on your tongue. You grumble about shoveling when they cover your driveway. Snowflakes are one of nature’s most interesting creations, thanks to their intricate patterns and ability to completely change a landscape. And there’s much more to them than what meets the eye. Here are seven cool facts you might not know about snowflakes.
1. Snowflakes aren’t really white
Technically speaking, that blanket of white is actually clear. Because snow is composed of translucent ice crystals, it reflects most of the light that touches its surface. This gives it a bright, white appearance to our eyes. And depending on the environment, it also might take on some other hues. For instance, deep snow can have a blue cast as red light gets trapped and absorbed more readily. And some snow can appear pink due to algae growing in it.
2. Snow is technically a mineral
Snow can be classified as a mineral, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. “A mineral is a naturally occurring homogeneous solid, inorganically formed, with a definite chemical composition and an ordered atomic arrangement,” the center says. Snow is composed of ice crystals, and ice meets those criteria. It’s naturally occurring (not made by humans — freezers don’t count), a single material, formed inorganically (not by an organism) and has an ordered structure. And most of us know its chemical structure: H2O.
3. All snowflakes (probably) are unique
Atmospheric conditions determine a snowflake’s basic shape. “A snowflake begins to form when an extremely cold water droplet freezes onto a pollen or dust particle in the sky. This creates an ice crystal,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “As the ice crystal falls to the ground, water vapor freezes onto the primary crystal, building new crystals — the six arms of the snowflake.” The various temperatures and humidities that a single crystal experiences as it falls control its formation. So even though some snowflakes might appear the same on the surface, it would be incredibly rare for them to take exactly the same route from the sky and be identical on a molecular level.
More Weather News
Weather News - February 22, 2019, 12:58:28 PM EST
Ice swimming in Russia has long been associated with older, usually Speedo-clad men. However, a younger generation of Moscow’s “Walruses of the Capital” club are giving it a fashionable new image.
Weather News - February 22, 2019, 12:40:54 PM EST
After a dry weekend, a new storm is expected to return downpours and thunderstorms to northern India to close out February.
In case you missed it: Colossal winter storm turns deadly in eastern US; Rare snow makes another appearance in Las Vegas
Weather News - February 22, 2019, 12:17:48 PM EST
A monster winter storm swept across the Midwest and eastern United States this week, leading to fatal accidents on snowy roads while more snow hit Las Vegas in rare form.
Tropical Cyclone Oma to bring days of pounding surf to Australia before threatening to soak Queensland
Weather News - February 22, 2019, 12:01:34 PM EST
Pounding seas will continue to spread along the eastern coast of Australia during the final days of February before Tropical Cyclone Oma threatens to return downpours to northern Queensland.
Weather News - February 22, 2019, 12:42:20 PM EST
A powerful storm will first send a surge of warm air with rain and the risk of flooding to the northeastern United States before high winds blast cold air back into the region.
The 1st black meteorologists: WWII's Tuskegee Weather Detachment made notable strides in opening meteorology field to African Americans
During World War II, a group of African-American United States Army Air Corps servicemen became what were likely the first black meteorologists.
Weather News - February 22, 2019, 10:01:36 AM EST
While the worst of Typhoon Wutip will remain offshore, Guam will still face the risk for flooding, power outages and pounding seas this weekend.