How does snow form?

Answer

Snow forms when atmospheric water vapor freezes onto a pollen or dust particle, which creates an ice crystal. As it falls, more water vapor freezes onto the ice crystal to create snowflakes.

Mother Nature Network outlines the formation of snow in the following steps. First, snow forms when there is atmospheric lift, which means that warm, moist air gets stuck above colder air. This happens especially readily above lakes and other large bodies of water when temperature instability occurs because cold air collides with the warmer water vapor. Second, once atmospheric lift occurs, the water vapor condenses onto pollen and dust particles that are also in the air. Third, once it condenses onto the particles, the cold temperatures cause it to freeze. Finally, these frozen particles attract even more water vapor, which crystallize and eventually form snowflakes.

Although snowflakes are infinitesimal, they have symmetrical shapes because that is the way water molecules are organized. Each snowflake has six sides or arms. The shape, though, depends largely on the temperature at which the snowflake was formed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration points out that the colder the temperature, the flatter the snowflake. Warmer temperatures tend to produce long needle-like snowflakes.

Q&A Related to "How does snow form?"
lonely boat drifting in river image by Francois du Plessis from Fotolia.com Snow crystals form from water vapor. Libbrecht explains that "snow crystals form when water vapor
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The snow keeps pressing together until all the air in the snow is gone then it pushes together more until it turns into a glacier.
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Good students ask more questions. eNotes educators are standing by. Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students. JOIN eNOTES
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Snow is simply frozen precipitation, or rain, in the form of hexagonal ice crystals, it gives fresh water which is vital to the world.
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1 Additional Answer
Ask.com Answer for: How Does Snow Form
Snow forms when water vapor condenses and freezes into ice crystals. As the ice crystals fall from the clouds, they melt and then refreeze. This creates larger ice crystals which produce fluffy snow.
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