Atmospheric conditions affect how snow crystals form and what happens to them as they fall to the ground. Snow may fall as symmetrical, six-sided snowflakes, heavy wet snow, or as thin powdery snow. Depending on humidity, temperature and geographic region, snow can take a variety of different shapes and sizes.
When people say snowflake, they often mean snow crystal. A snow crystal is a single crystal of ice, within which the water molecules are all lined up in a precise hexagonal array. Snow crystals display that six-fold symmetry we’re familiar with.
When precipitation gathers in clouds, the clouds keep gathering until the cloud is so heavy that it must let go of the precipitation. When that happens, there are different types of snow crystals that can be released and fall to the ground.
Types of snow crystals
These are probably what you’re most familiar with. Snowflakes are single ice crystals or clusters of ice crystals that fall from a cloud. They are formed when water vapor sticks around a piece of debris in the air. Snowflakes can be anywhere from tiny to a fraction of an inch big.
Hoarfrost is usually composed of interlocking ice crystals and tends to form on objects of small diameter that are freely exposed to air, such as tree branches, wires, and plant stems. It sits on surfaces like a powdery white substance, and takes this form when moisture goes directly from vapor to solid, skipping the liquid phase.
Graupel form as ice crystals clump together and fall through a supercooled cloud with a coating of rime – the ice crystals on the outside. Graupel is sometimes mistaken for hail but tends to have a softer and more crumbly texture.
Polycrystals are snowflakes except the snowflakes are a collection of many different ice crystals that have stuck together as opposed to water vapor condensing around one particle.
How does snow look when it lands?
Snow cover is the total of snow and ice on the ground including both new snow and previous snow and ice that has not melted.
This snow is soft, thin and doesn’t clump together. It also blows out of the way easily.
This type of snow is created when more and more people ride through powder snow. The snow gets packed in certain places, piled in others, and creates uneven surfaces with slippery patches and lumps of powder snow.
Slush forms when the sun hits the snow and begins to warm it, and when the air temperature rises. When that happens, the snow starts to melt and become mushy. It’s also very wet and heavy.
As we know, snow is essentially water, so when temperatures drop enough, the thaw-freeze cycle makes the snow hard. This is not the same as the ice in your freezer, but very similar. The top layer of ice becomes very compacted together and very slippery, making it hard to maintain grip and traction on it.
For all your snowy conditions this winter, there’s a snow blower than can handle the job quickly and efficiently, so you spend less time out in the cold and more time sheltered in the warmth of your home.
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Weingartz, family owned and operated, began in 1945 as a farm supply store for local Michigan families. In the 1970s, we began to focus exclusively on outdoor power equipment. Over time, we morphed into the “power equipment superstore” that now defines all of our locations. The staff and experts at Weingartz work diligently to provide the best service possible and give honest and helpful advice to each and every customer.
Weingartz also sells parts for all outdoor power equipment at https://weingartz.com/parts-lookup.
46061 Van Dyke Ave.
Utica, MI 48317
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