Kids Want To Know: How Snowflakes Are Formed

6:20 PM, Jan 17, 2014   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, NC -- With flurries just this week, the Kids Want To Know question is well timed.

"Hi my name is K.G. and my question is, 'How are snowflakes formed?' "

There's an entire website dedicated to snow called Snow Brains.
Their list of snowflake facts includes: all snowflakes have 6 sides. Its because of how the water molecules take shape.
But how is the snowflake formed?

WFMY News 2 Chief Meteorologist Grant Gilmore says,"One of the biggest factors in getting snow to form is the temperature has to be below freezing. If the temperature is not below freezing you'll never get snowflakes to form. "

So 32 degrees fahrenheit or 0 degrees celsius. From there, you have to have what we call a condensation nucleus or condensation nuclei if you have more than one.

"And really all it is is a grain of sand, dust or soil thats really small about point 1 micrometers, so that's suspended in the air somewhere up in the atmosphere, amongst a whole bunch of water vapor, H2O, so you have that water vapor surrounding this real tiny condensation nuclei, from there with temperatures below freezing, you have ice crystals that form right off that condensation nuclei thus forming a snowflake. Multiply that by millions and you have snowfall. "

The largest snowflake on record was 15 inches across

Does your child have a Kids Want To Know question? Use your smartphone to get their question on video and upload it here on the website or email









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