Snowflake Field Guide Part 3 – SnowFacts

Snow is good for plants. A layer of snow protects a plant from drying wind & cold. I’m sure you know the rules surrounding yellow snow, but did you know some of these other facts?

How big can snowflakes get?

Snowflakes are a collection of ice crystals that form in a round mass. Most are less than one-half inch in diameter, although under certain conditions irregularly shaped snowflakes can grow to be up to 2”.

Is snow edible?
In an unpolluted world snow is edible. Snow in urban areas may contain pollutants and should not be ingested. Stick to the countryside, but stay away from the yellow stuff!

Does snow change how sound waves travel?
Yes. When the ground has a thick layer of fresh, fluffy snow it acts like a blanket and absorbs sound waves. However, when the snow surface is smooth and hard, it reflects sound waves and sounds may seem clearer and travel farther.

Can there be thunder and lightning with a snow storm?
Yes, but it is rare and usually occurs near the coastline. Though, I can attest in Buffalo there’s lightning and thunder during a snow storm at least once a year.

Why do more icicles form on the south sides of buildings?
Icicles form when ice or snow repeatedly melts and freezes. Because the south sides of buildings are exposed to the warmth of the sun, icicles are more likely to form there than on the shaded north sides of buildings where melting does not occur as often.

Why do forecasters seem to have so much trouble forecasting snow?
Snow forecasts are more accurate than they used to be, but meteorologists still have a challenge. That’s because in stormy weather, the heaviest snow falls in surprisingly narrow bands. It’s not unusual for the scale of these bands to be dwarfed by the sheer size of storm systems or forecast zones.

Why is snow white?
Much like a diamond gemstone or prism in a crystal chandelier, snowflakes contain tiny surfaces that reflect light. Snow is white because the sunlight it reflects is white.

Photo above is of my potager vegetable plot safely blanketed for the winter. It also happens to be where we “store” snow from shoveling. Years ago, as a direct mail promotion, I created a Snowflake Field Guide for the Buffalo Museum of Science. Each day this week, I’m posting some facts about flakes. It was originally intended for kids, but I didn’t know much of this info when I started.

I have a long-time garden blog, a popular garden on America's largest garden tour, and have co-written a book on garden design titled, "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" When I'm not doing all that, I am an advertising designer always out looking to design things to promote your business. Look me up at #jcharlier.

0 comments on “Snowflake Field Guide Part 3 – SnowFacts

  1. We get “thunder snow” here in Denver as well, typically in the spring or fall when when extreme temperature fluctuations are more common. Thanks for the fun series on snow, and congratulations on the new book!


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