Q:

How does snow occur?

A:

Quick Answer

Snowflakes form in the atmosphere when extremely cold water droplets form frozen crystals around tiny particles of dust or pollen. When these ice crystals fall closer to the ground, water vapor freezes onto the primary crystal and snowflakes grow larger with more crystals. This frozen water creates six-sided crystals.

Know More

Full Answer

These six-sided crystals form different shapes depending upon the temperature of the surrounding air. Long, needle-shaped crystals prevail at 23 degrees Fahrenheit, while flat, plate-like crystals form at 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Individual arms of a snowflake may grow differently as the snowflake falls to Earth. If the atmosphere changes from one layer to the next, a snowflake's arms grow one way for a time and then grow in a different pattern later.

No two snowflakes are exactly alike because each crystal follows slightly different paths from the atmosphere to the surface. Even two snowflakes next to each other do not follow the exact same downward pathway. All snowflakes have six sides due to the way in which water forms crystal patterns at the molecular level, but no two flakes are precisely the same. Most snowflakes are less than ½ inch across, although some reach 2 inches in diameter in the right conditions.

Most snow occurs when the temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, although it cannot be too cold to snow, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. Warmer air holds more water vapor, so extremely cold air is unlikely to have enough moisture to create snow.

Learn more about Snow

Related 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:

    What is snow made of?

    A:

    Snow is made out of tiny ice crystals that stick together. The tiny ice crystals form when the temperatures are low and there is moisture in the atmosphere.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is "onion snow"?

    A:

    "Onion snow" refers to the last snowfall of the winter season and is said to mark the beginning of spring. It received its name because onions are planted in early spring, and the later snow fall covers them, providing small portions of beneficial moisture.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Where does it snow in November?

    A:

    It snows in Europe, America, Canada and Japan in November. In Europe, it snows in mid-November in France, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. In America, November snow falls mostly in New York, Colorado, Utah, and Minnesota. In Canada, snow falls largely in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Manitoba and Quebec. In Japan, snow season starts in November.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore