Snow (in just the right amounts, at just the right time) is loved by all. But what exactly is the fluffy cold stuff, and how is made? Today's winter tour examines the subject of snow through the eyes of scientists, weathermen, and multimedia artists. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! [Editor's Note: An updated version of this topic can be found here: Snow]
"Is it ever too cold to snow? How big can snowflakes get? Why is snow white?" Everything you ever wanted to know about snow (but didn't know who to ask) is answered here by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, affiliated with the University of Colorado. This educational site also includes a Snow Glossary (from "ablation" to "vapor pressure"), a Snow Fact Sheet and a feature on the history of snow removal. The first known snow plow was pulled by horses through the "snow-clogged streets" of Milwaukee in 1862.
Wow! Don't miss this virtual snowflake designer. Start by perusing the gallery of saved snowflakes, and then try your hand at making your own. The trick is to click (not drag) your scissors from point to point. You'll know your scissors are snipping when the indicator changes from red to green. When your masterpiece is complete, you can download it, print it, email it to a friend, or go back to the gallery and look for it there.
"This site is all about snow crystals and snowflakes -- what they are, where they come from, and just how these remarkably complex and beautiful structures are created, quite literally, out of thin air." Best place to start on this Caltech site is the Snowflake Primer, where you'll learn the answer to questions such as "Is it really true that no two snow crystals are alike?" and "Why do snow crystals form in such complex symmetrical shapes?"
When the weatherman issues a heavy snow warning, he's telling us that he expects at least six inches of snow on the ground in the next twelve hours but without any significant wind. A blizzard warning, on the other hand, would be falling snow accompanied by gusts of winds blasting at thirty-five miles an hour. At this USA Today page, you'll learn all the official winter weather terminology, as defined by the National Weather Service.