Most of us have heard that no two snowflakes are alike. When one looks into the science of snowflakes we learn that are many different types of snowflakes. In 1951, the International Commission of Snow and Ice established a classification system to identify the seven basic forms of snow crystals. This seems like a good place to begin.
Plate snowflakes are formed at the warmest temperatures. They would eventually become stellar snowflake, but there is not enough moisture in the air to make the more complex shapes in the star. They are a hexagon shape, but with no detail or hub. These are formed in very elevated clouds.
These snowflakes are made of thin plate like crystals. They have six broad extensions that form the star-like shape. These snowflakes are very delicate and rarely reach the ground intact.
These snowflakes are formed in drier air. They are a tiny, yet dense six sided hollow or solid prisms. While they are all six sided they come in a variety of sizes. These type of snowflakes can form in temperatures anywhere from 15 to negative 25 degrees C. The moisture content is the determining factor as to hollow or solid.
~ Spacial dendrite
These are stellar snowflakes bumped up a notch. They have the same star shape, but these snowflakes are three dimensional. These are the most intricate and beautiful snowflakes nature has to offer. It has to be extremely cold with a lot of moisture for these type of snowflakes to form.
This type of snowflake is considered the most dangerous type of snowflake. When these flakes fall in high mountain areas, the simple snow fall can cause an avalanche. Dennis Randall, an expert for Family Education has this to say. “Needles tend to produce a dense, stiff snow pack which can produce an avalanche under the right conditions.”
~ Capped Column
These are really two types of snowflakes that change to one on their journey to the ground. They are the shape of the column, but they have caps on both ends. One the way to the ground the moisture content and the temperature causes this interesting marriage.
The covers a wide variety of snowflakes that are partial and can’t be named or they have morphed into something else. There are many subtypes that fall into this category.
Chances all most of will never have the opportunity to identify a single snowflake that falls down. However there are thousands of photos the professions have shared with us. They are truly beautiful and unique.