I recall, as a child, catching snowflakes on my tongue. The chill of the winter air, sleds and the naked, snow-covered trees all brought about a sense of excitement. I felt a freedom rarely experienced in other seasons as I would sled down the side of a small hill. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the snow covered trees and the blanket of snow that graced the ground.
As a whole, snow may look like a white, glistening powder from afar, but upon close examination, each piece of snow, each snowflake has its own identity. Snowflakes and their characteristics were intriguing to me. I pondered their various shapes and sizes as they melted on the palms of my hands.
There are many different types of snowflakes to be mentioned. Hexagonal plates, stellar plates, stellar dendrites, fernlike stellar dendrites, needles, columns, bullets and irregular shapes are a few of the more common snowflakes that one may see. One may be hard-pressed to find a few snowflakes that look identical.
Hexagonal plates look flat in nature and have six sides. The plates may have patterns in the center, some of which resemble a star.
Stellar plates are patterned in a way in which they have the resemblance of a star. They are also hexagonal and have bumps or what looks like little arms protruding outward.
Stellar dendrites, on the other hand, are the pictorial example of the snowflake ornament one may see represented on a Christmas tree. They also have six branching sides.
Fernlike stellar dendrites are very similar to their cousin, the stellar dendrites. They differ, however in such a way that their arms take on the look of a fern or feather.
Snowflakes can sometimes look like needles. they take on this shape when temperatures are approximately -5° C.
Snowflakes can also look like six-sided columns. The columns can be twisted, stubby or long in nature.
Very closely related to column shaped snowflakes, the columns can taper at the end forming what may look like a bullet.
Snowflakes can also join together and make numerous and varied irregular shapes.
Although snowflakes can be classified as some of the above listed shapes, the patterns represented on the plates of the snowflakes are all so different in their appearance that a snowflake is an individual work of art.