Light and fluffy, snowflakes come in all shapes and sizes. Read these fun facts about snowflakes to get you in the mood for winter!
We’re about to tell you all our amazing facts about snowflakes – and it’s not just that every snowflake is unique!
For example, did you know there there are up to 80 different types of snowflakes? There are at least 5 widely agreed upon shapes, including the stellar dendrite, the most popular shape.
Whatever specific shape they come in, all snowflakes are hexagons though. And while you might think that snowflakes are all white, you might be surprised by snowflake facts no. 6 and 9!
Snowflakes, and snow in general, play a huge role in human life. Nearly 80% of all freshwater on earth comes from melted snow and ice. Not many people realize that.
I know we’ve already said it, but the most popular fact about snowflakes you’ve heard about is absolutely true. No two snowflakes are the same! You could look at every snowflake ever formed in the history of the world (if that were possible) and NO two would be identical. Isn’t that just amazing!?
This is even more impressive considering a single storm can produce billions of these tiny, fluffy droplets. We told you these snowflake facts would surprise you!
So sit back, grab a warm cup of your favorite beverage, and get ready to learn all about snowflakes and why they are so unique!
12 Fun Facts About Snowflakes
1. Snowflakes aren’t frozen water
Contrary to popular belief, snowflakes aren’t simply frozen water. Frozen water is actually sleet. Snowflakes are formed when water droplets freeze in the clouds, and then are dispersed in snow.
2. All snowflakes are hexagons
As water vapor condenses on the ice particles, the formation stretches into a hexagonal prism. Branches then shoot off from the center in highly intricate ways, each one is unique and complex.
The temperature and moisture of the clouds affect the shape of each snowflake.
3. Snowflakes can get really big
The biggest snowflake ever recorded was in Fort Keogh, Montana. It fell on January 28, 1887, and was 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick. Talk about a big snowflake fact. Matt Coleman, who found it, said it was “larger than milk pans.”
4. Temperature is important
It’s the cold that determines the ultimate shape. When the temperature is extremely cold, the snow is fine and more powder-like. This keeps the design simpler, typically needle or rod-shape.
Closer to freezing, snowflakes get larger and much more complex in design.
5. Every snowflake is unique
The designs are so intricate that it is nearly impossible for two snowflakes to be exactly the same. Even if you looked at every snowflake ever made, you wouldn’t find two the exact same.
6. Snowflakes are reflective
While snow looks white, it is actually clear. It only looks white because of how light reflects off of the ice crystals.
7. Humans depend on snowflakes
Nearly 80% of the fresh water on earth comes from melted snow and ice. This is what keeps us humans alive and healthy, so we should be more thankful to snowflakes!
8. They start small
When a snowflake starts, it is only a tiny ice crystal. It grows as water vapor from the atmosphere freezes into the crystal. The ultimate size of the snowflake depends on how many ice crystals bond together, and how big they are.
9. It’s not all white
There’s an interesting snowflake phenomenon, it mostly happens in Canada. When conditions are right, algae grows on snowflakes, making them a reddish color. How cool is that!? We told you snowflakes weren’t just white!
10. Snow can heat space
This is definitely one of our favorite facts about snowflakes. There is so much snow at the North and South Pole that it can literally heat space. The snow at either pole acts somewhat like a mirror.
When light from the sun hits the snow, it bounces off and travels back to space, heating it up. That’s science for you there.
11. There are many different types
While every snowflake is a hexagon, they come in five general forms: plates, columns, prisms, dendrites, and needles. But there is some debate on how many categories you could form, some groups listing up to 80 subtypes.
However, the most popular shape is the stellar dendrite. When you think of snowflake decorations, that’s the main one.
12. Snowstorms happen
When there is heavy snowfall it is called a snowstorm. However, when winds reach 35 miles per hour or more, the storm is called a blizzard. In each storm, billions of snowflakes fall.
Blizzards are also the reason for this tasty snowflake fact. When blizzards hit, people buy more cakes, cookies, baked goods, and candy than any other type of food. Figures, right?
Though these storms lay the foundation for perfect conditions to ski or snowboard in, so we’ve got to be thankful for that too!
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
So which of our snowflake trivia was the most interesting? Next time you’re stuck in a blizzard or building a snowman, you might think back on your favorite fact! And if you think we’ve missed any, feel free to add them into the comments below!