Amazon Quiz: How many snow crsytals does every snowflake such as this approximately contain?
Amazon Quiz (May 9, 2022): How many snow crsytals does every snowflake such as this approximately contain?
According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), while some snowflakes can indeed be made of a single crystal, more elaborate snowflakes consist of as many as 200 crystals fused together.
Snow forms in clouds with temperatures below freezing point (0 degrees Celsius or -32 degrees Fahrenheit), when water freezes around tiny bits of dirt to create snow crystals. As the snow crystals grow, they become heavy, and descend to Earth as snow.
Different conditions such as temperature and humidity affect snowflake formation. Therefore, snowflakes can both be small and irregular shaped or have hexagonal or six-sided shapes, like the ones featured in popular culture.
As UCAR explains, "The six sided shapes, or hexagons, form because of how water molecules organize themselves as they freeze. If they spin like tops as they fall, they may still be symmetrical when they get to the ground. If they fall sideways, they become lopsided."
"Temperature determines if the crystals become a flat plate, a long column, or a prism shape," UCAR further explains on how snow crystals get their final appearance.
According to geophysics researchers Magono and Lee, freshly formed snow crystals can come in at least 80 distinct shapes, but researchers hold that despite looking similar to each other, no two snowflakes are alike as they can have different arrangements of molecules.