Friday, April 17, 2009

Snow Day

This morning a major spring snow storm has rolled in shutting down all activities on the golf course. Forecasters are calling for snow totals in the range of 1-3 feet over the next 36 hours.

How does snow form?

Snow begins in the atmosphere as water which condenses into tiny droplets. As more and more water vapor condenses onto its surface, the droplet grows. Cold air then freezes this water into an ice crystal. As the ice crystals fall they come into contact with warmer air that makes causes a slight melting. The melting acts like as glue, causing crystals to bond together into larger flakes, forming what many people think of as the "classic" fluffy snowflake. If the crystals melt too much and then refreeze as they get closer to Earth's surface, the precipitation falls as sleet instead of snow.
Each ice crystal has a unique shape that depends on the surrounding air's temperature and water vapor content. If it is below freezing and there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the crystal grows six evenly spaced branches. Snow flakes are found in many different shapes and forms of which no two are alike. Below is a chart of just some of the snow forms that can be created under controlled conditions. In nature these snow flakes have endless possibilities of shape and form.