What makes a flake?

snowflake / Submitted by Jan Kitzing of Lewistown, Mo.

So, the other day my six-year-old asked me, "Dad what is a snowflake?"

I quickly answered that it is frozen water and was sure that would suffice. However, it did not so I thought I would do my best to answer that question for her and everyone else.

Snowflakes are a particular form of "water ice." Snowflakes form in clouds, which consist of vapor. When the temperature is 32 F or colder, water changes from its liquid form into ice.

Several factors can affect snowflake formation. Temperature, air currents, and humidity all influence shape and size.

Dirt and dust gets mixed up and can cause a flake to be more or less dense and of course makes the color darker. The dirt particles make the snowflake heavier, and can cause cracks and breaks in the crystal and make it easier to melt.

Snowflake formation is an amazingly dynamic process. A snowflake may encounter many different environmental conditions, sometimes melting it, sometimes causing growth, always changing its structure.

How about the old saying that no two snowflake are alike? Since so many factors affect the structure and make up of a snowflake, it is improbable that anyone would see two identical snowflakes. But, experts will tell you that there is no way to be sure.

Enjoy these pictures from some Tri-State residents of our first snowfall on Tuesday.

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