For the past two days, New York has endured freezing temperatures and relentless blizzard. Instead of pouting indoors, perhaps it is better to maintain a positive outlook and appreciate the ethereal allure of snowflakes.
Snowflakes are formed when supercooled cloud droplets crystalize. About 10^18 water molecules are arranged to form a snowflake so it is rare for two snowflakes to look exactly the same. Temperature, humidity, and the way the snowflake falls from the sky affect the patterns of the ice lattice. Snowflakes thrive in humid, subzero environments. Water molecules attach to the surface of the crystalized droplets, dry to form ice, and slowly grow to a few millimeters in size. Ice particles branch out into common hexagonal or dendritic shapes. Snowflakes tend to be flat because it more more difficult of molecules to attach to the smooth surfaces of the snowflake than the jagged sides. The snowflakes grow symmetrically but sometimes clump together to form aggregates of several centimeters. The largest snowflake recorded is 15 inches and was spotted in 1887 in Fort Keogh, Montana.
Even though the snowstorm is roaring outside, we can still be memorized by the unique beauty of snowflakes.
To find out more, visit http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-snowflakes-crystal.