What is snow

snow formation

In the lower part of the atmosphere is where all meteorological phenomena occur. One of them is snow. Many people don't know well what is snow in its entirety, since they do not know its formation, characteristics and consequences well. Snow is also called ice water. It is nothing more than solid water that falls directly from the clouds. Snowflakes are made up of ice crystals, and when they fall to the earth's surface they cover everything with a beautiful white blanket.

In this article we are going to tell you what snow is, what its characteristics are, how it originates and some curiosities.

What is snow

snowfall accumulation

Falling snow is known as snowfall. This phenomenon is common in many areas characterized by low temperatures (generally in winter). When the snow is heavy it often destroys city infrastructure and disrupts daily and industrial activities many times. The structure of snowflakes is fractal. Fractals are geometric shapes repeated at different scales, producing very peculiar visual effects.

Many cities use snow as their main tourist attraction (for example, Sierra Nevada). Due to the heavy snowfalls in these places, you can practice different sports such as skiing or snowboarding. In addition, the snow fields offer fantastic views, which can attract many tourists and generate huge profits.

Snow are small crystals of frozen water that are formed by absorbing water droplets in the upper troposphere. When these water droplets collide, they combine to form snowflakes. When the weight of the snowflake is greater than the resistance of the air, it will fall.


what is snow and characteristics

The snowflake formation temperature must be below zero. The formation process is the same as that of snow or hail. The only difference between them is the formation temperature.

When snow falls to the ground, it accumulates and piles up. As long as the ambient temperature remains below zero, the snow will continue to exist and will continue to be stored. If the temperature rises, the snowflakes will start to melt. The temperature at which snowflakes form is usually -5 ° C. It can form at higher temperatures, but starts more often from -5 ° C.

Generally speaking, people associate snow with extreme cold, but in fact, most snowfall occurs when the ground temperature is 9 ° C or more. This is because a very important factor is not considered: ambient humidity. Humidity is a decisive factor for the presence of snow in a place. If the weather is very dry, it will not snow even if the temperature is very low. An example of this is the dry valleys of Antarctica, where there is ice but never snow.

Sometimes the snow dries up. It is about those moments in which the snow formed by the environmental humidity passes through a lot of dry air, turning the snowflakes into a kind of powder that does not stick anywhere, ideal for practicing sports on snow. Snow after snowfall has different aspects due to the development of weather effects, whether there is strong wind, melting snow, etc.

Types of snow

what is snow

There are different types of snow depending on the way it falls or is generated and the way it is stored.

  • Frost: It is a type of snow that forms directly on the ground. When the temperature is below zero and the humidity is high, the water on the earth's surface freezes and forms frost. This water accumulates primarily on windswept surfaces and can carry water to plants and rocks on the earth's surface. May form large feathery flakes or solid crusts.
  • Icy frost: the difference between this and the previous one is that this snow produces clear crystalline forms, like leaves. Its formation process is different from that of conventional frosts. It is formed by the sublimation process.
  • Powder snow: This type of snow is characterized by being fluffy and light. Due to the temperature difference between the two ends and the center of the crystal, it loses cohesion. This type of snow can slide well on skis.
  • Grainy snow: This type of snow is formed by the continuous thawing and re-freezing of areas with low temperatures but with sun. Snow has thick, round crystals.
  • Fast disappearing snow: this type of snow is more common in spring. It has a soft, wet coat without much resistance. This type of snow can cause wet avalanches or plate avalanches. It usually occurs in areas with little rainfall.
  • Crusted snow: This type of snow forms when the surface of the melted water refreezes and forms a firm layer. The conditions that lead to the formation of this snow are hot air, condensation on the surface of the water, the appearance of sun and rain. Normally, when a ski or a boot passes, the layer that forms is thinner and breaks. However, in some cases, when it rains, a thick crust forms and the water seeps from the snow and freezes. This type of scab is more dangerous because it is slippery. This type of snow is more frequent in areas and times where it rains.

Effect of wind on snow

Wind has the effects of fragmentation, compaction and consolidation on all surface layers of snow. When the wind brings more heat, the consolidation effect of the snow is better. Although the heat provided by the wind is not enough to melt the snow, it can harden snow by deformation. If the bottom layer is very brittle, these formed wind panels can break. It is like this then when an avalanche forms.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about what snow is and its characteristics.

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