The Slow 5 Step Creation Of A Snowflake
I love snowflakes. I have loved snowflakes since the very first time I experienced one. When I was a little kid growing up in the Bronx one of the most depressing things for me was having Christmas, or New Year’s arrive and having a complete absence of snow.
Recently, it has snowed a bit here in Ontario where I am stuck in the Covid lockdown. I like information and knowledge in general and Covid has given me the free time to look stuff up online. Tonight I chose snowflakes. Reading about these little miracles kept me busy for three hours since all I really knew about them is that no two snowflakes are alike and they are truly beautiful.
This is what I learned.
A snowflake is a single ice crystal that has grown large enough and may have connected with others, then falls through the Earth’s atmosphere as snow.
How snowflake becomes a “snowflake”.
1. Each flake forms around a dust particle in supersaturated air masses.
2. It does this by attracting sub-freezing cloud water droplets.
3. These droplets freeze and grow into crystal form.
4. Complex shapes emerge as the flake moves through differing temperature and humidity zones in the atmosphere,
5. No two flakes are alike, thus individual snowflakes will differ in detail from any other snowflake.
These flakes may be categorized in eight broad classifications and at least 80 individual variants. The main constituent shapes for ice crystals, from which combinations may occur, are needle, column, plate, and rime. Snowflakes are transparent and made of clear ice though they appear white in color. They appear this way due to diffuse reflection of the whole spectrum light by the small crystal facets of the snowflakes.
The Physics of Snowflakes
The key element in how and why the snowflakes form has to do, in part with the fact that water droplets are so much more numerous than the ice crystals. Due to their sheer abundance, the crystals are able to grow to hundreds of micrometers or millimeters in size at the expense of the water droplets. The corresponding depletion of water vapor causes the droplets to evaporate, meaning that the ice crystals grow at the droplets’ expense. These large crystals are an efficient source of precipitation, since they fall through the atmosphere due to their mass, and may collide and stick together in clusters, or aggregates. These aggregates are usually the type of ice particle that falls to the ground.
A Final Thought
Snowflakes are, for me at least, physical perfection actualized. Here, the bigger, the better. The Guinness World Records lists the world’s largest (aggregate) snowflakes as those of January 1887 at Fort Keogh, Montana; allegedly one measured 15 inches (38 cm) wide.
Author: Lewis Harrison is an author, practical philosopher, and seminar leader. He and the founder and senior teacher at the Wisdom Path Community, a spiritually-oriented social network-based group that focuses on the spiritual journey rather than rites, rituals, ceremonies, or dogmatic practices.
“My website is AskLewis.com and I can be emailed directly at LewisCoaches@gmail.com…”