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?"
Snow, the big soft flakes we are familiar with, does not begin in this state. The process of forming into snow begins high in the earth's atmosphere. The formation of these powdery
http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4563981_snow-form.htm...
Snow is formed when it 'rains' but obviously it is too cold for any precipitation to come out as rain so it comes at like snow like we would have if it was below 0 degrees celsius
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_is_snow_formed_in_An...
Snow is not frozen rain. Snow forms by sublimation of water vapor-the turning of water vapor directly into ice, without going through the liquid stage. High above the ground, chilled
http://www.answers.com/topic/how-does-snow-form
Aloft in clouds, water vapor chills enough that its airy molecules cling together in tight order to form crystals. New research details how humidity and temperature cause crystals
http://www.quora.com/Why-do-snow-crystals-form-in-...
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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