Time to re-think ‘no two snowflakes are alike’

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — There are some common myths that exist around snow. Here are several that can be addressed now.

First off, snow is not actually white. It is translucent. Since snow is actually an ice crystal, light goes into the ice, bounces around several times and eventually moves through the snowflake as all light, the entire light spectrum, and emerges as white.  

Many say that no two snowflakes are the same. Not totally true. To the naked eye, yes there can easily be two identical snowflakes. Some scientists can create snowflakes out of a small number of water molecules that can be virtually identical, but it is very rare in nature. 

The third common myth is that it is too warm for snow. In fact, you can get snowflakes falling when temperatures are several degrees above freezing. Remember that the entire column of air needs to be considered when talking precipitation type.

The majority of precipitation falls as snow, and if the temperatures are below freezing, expect snow, but right at the surface, if the temperatures are a few degrees warmer, that will not be enough to melt the snowflake, and we get snow falling when the temperatures are a bit warmer.  

Falling snow can also help cool the atmosphere itself and that can create a small feedback loop that allows snow to fall when temperatures are above 32°F. 

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