Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Although sledging, snowmen and days off school are all fun, there's more to snow than that.

If you ever have the chance to look closely at a snowflake before it melts you'll see it's actually a beautiful crystal.

You might have heard that snow crystals come in all different shapes and sizes and that it is extremely rare to find two identical snowflakes?  they're one of a kind - just like you...

What else do you know about snow?  read on and find out some fabulous snowflake facts.

Why does it snow?

Snow begins when the temperature high up in the Earth's atmosphere is below freezing.

The cold air freezes water droplets into an ice crystal. More and more water collects on the ice crystal and freezes, making it heavy. This causes the ice crystal to fall from the sky and it becomes a snowflake.

Unfortunately, if the crystals melt and then refreeze on their journey to Earth, they become slushy sleet instead of fluffy white snowflakes - wet. cold and no good for making snowballs!


It takes all shapes of snowflakes to make a snowstorm

The shape of a snowflake is depends on the weather inside the cloud.

  • The 'classic' six pointed star snowflakes form in the upper parts of the clouds, where temperatures are coldest
  • Lower down in the cloud, where temperatures are a little warmer, snowflakes form in the shape of columns and needles

Amazingly, there can be up to 180 billion molecules of water in one snowflake. That's 180,000,000,000 drops!  Imagine how many are in a whole snowman!

Why is the snow white?

Snow reflects most of the sunlight that falls on it.

The little bit of sunlight that is absorbed by snow is from all the wavelengths of visible light - red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

When you add all of those colours of light together you get... white. This gives the snow the lovely clean colour we're used to (until a car drives over it).


Snowflake facts!

  • The most snow in one season was at Mount Baker, Washington State, USA, with an amazing 29 metres (95 feet) in 1998.
  • Smelly orange snow fell over 1500 square kilometres of Siberia in 2007, probably because the snow mixed with a heavy sandstorm from neighbouring Kazakstan. Weird!
  • The world's biggest snowcastle is in Kemi, Finland. It's big enough for a restaurant, chapel and hotel!
  • For an official white Christmas in England a flake of snow must be seen to fall on the Met Office roof.