Q:

What causes it to snow?

A:

Quick Answer

Snow occurs when water droplets in clouds freeze, and these droplets then act as a nucleus onto which molecules of water vapor adhere, forming larger ice crystals. Once the growing snowflake is too heavy for the movement of air in the clouds to support, it falls to the ground. Snow can form in any clouds that are below freezing temperature but only does so under the right conditions.

Know More
What causes it to snow?
Credit: Chris Perriman CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

Clouds below freezing temperature do not automatically produce snowflakes. This is because water droplets do not necessarily freeze even at temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Water droplets in clouds can be supercooled because their molecules must randomly encounter each other in the right way to begin the freezing process. In clouds warmer than minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit, this requires a tiny solid particle to act as a nucleus for crystallization. Particles of clay, dust or biological substances can fill this role, as well as human-introduced nuclei such as silver nitrate or dry ice.

Individual snowflakes vary in shape by the temperature at which they formed. They alternate between flat, plate-like shapes and longer, thin shapes as temperature decreases. The nuclei on which the snowflakes formed also influences their final shape. Most snowflakes are visibly irregular.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    Why is snow white?

    A:

    Snow, which is made up of millions of ice crystals and air pockets, reflects all of the wavelengths of light in the visible spectrum. When combined, the reflected light wavelengths create a white color. All objects in the world get their color based on which wavelengths of light they absorb and which ones they reflect.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Is snow edible?

    A:

    Snow is made up of small ice crystals and is perfectly edible most of the time. The only time it is potentially dangerous to eat snow is when it is contaminated.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why is snow cold?

    A:

    Snow is cold because it is formed by water crystals combining, a process that can only occur when the temperature falls to 35 degrees Fahrenheit or below. When the temperature is over 35 degrees Fahrenheit, the precipitation is made of sleet or rain.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a snow squall?

    A:

    A snow squall is defined as an intense, heavy snowfall with strong winds and a possibility of lightning. The amount of snowfall is significant. Another term used to describe a snow squall is a whiteout.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore