17 Fun Facts About Snowflakes That May Surprise You

Published June 16, 2022
girl leaning out car window catching snowflakes

Snowfall is beautiful and magnificent; and snow is formed by amazing snowflakes. Is each snowflake truly one-of-a-kind? Learn the answer to this question and more by exploring a few fun and interesting facts about snowflakes. From the shape and size of snowflakes, to why mathematicians find them so interesting, we'll discover it all. Let it snow!

Fun Facts About Shapes and Types of Snowflakes

Snow is pretty neat stuff. And snowflakes have some pretty cool features. Chill out and learn some fascinating facts about snowflake shapes and types.

Snowflakes Are Made of Ice Crystals

Snowflakes are made up of ice crystals. They form in the sky around bits of dirt, according to the Center for Science Education. Depending on where they go in the atmosphere, snowflakes can fall to the ground as single ice crystals, or they can be made of 200 or more crystals. The shape they take and how they grow is determined by temperature and humidity. So, when it's really cold, the designs are simple. When the temperature is hovering around the freezing point, snowflakes have more complex designs. Isn't that neat?

Snowflakes Have Six Points

snowflake on plant

Typically, snowflakes will have a hexagonal shape and six points. But you can find other varieties of snowflake shapes. There are snowflakes with 12 sides, and even some in the shape of bullets. Irregular crystals of snow can also come in some unique shapes.

There Are Several Types of Snowflakes

Generally, you will hear about five types of snowflakes: plates, columns, prisms, dendrites, and needles. But it depends on where you look. Not all scientists agree on the types of snowflakes. For example, the International Classification System lists seven principal types of snowflakes. But Nakaya's classification has 41 different types. There is also the Magono and Lee classification with 80 different types. So, depending on where you look, you can find all different types of snowflakes.

Most Popular Snowflake Shape: Stellar Dendrite

Most snowflakes are pretty unique. But, when you think of snowflake decorations, you are typically thinking of stellar dendrites. These snowflakes have six points and lots of unique patterns. They are by far the most popular snowflake you'll come across in the winter.

Snowflakes Can Get Big

Most snowflakes aren't giant. They are typically between .02 and .5 inches wide. However, snowflakes can get pretty big. In fact, the Guinness World Record holder for the largest snowflake was a whopping 15 inches wide. It was measured in January 1887 in Montana. That's bigger than a frisbee!

Mathematical and Scientific Facts About Snowflakes

Snowflakes have always fascinated the math and science world. They are just such neat little structures with so many varieties. However, some scientists and mathematicians have devoted their lives to studying this natural phenomenon. Learn a few interesting snowflake facts.

Snowflakes Have Symmetry

Mathematicians and scientists alike have always been fascinated with the formation of snowflakes. Mathematicians like snowflakes because they are a wonderful example of symmetry in nature. Due to the way they are structured, you could fold a snowflake in half, and the two sides would nearly match. That's why you always create a paper snowflake by folding the paper first.

Each Snowflake Is Unique

close up of snowflakes macro

You might have heard that snowflakes are like fingerprints, and every one of them is unique. Well, it's true. Each snowflake takes a different path from the sky to the ground. So, each one is formed in a unique pattern that makes it one-of-a-kind. However, scientists have been able to make twin snowflakes in controlled conditions, so it is possible.

Pollen Makes Snowflakes

Water droplets need something to freeze around to create a snowflake. Typically, this is dust particles in the clouds. But they can also form from pollen in the air. You might not think of pollen much during the winter, but it's still there. And it can create snowflakes. Pretty cool, huh?

Snowflakes Have A Lot of Water Molecules

Another fun fact about snowflakes is that these little crystals are made from a lot of different water molecules. Scientists point out that there are a billion to a quintillion water molecules in just one snowflake! Now that's a lot of water molecules.

Snow and Snowflakes Hold Most of the Fresh Water on Earth

Scientists have found that a lot of the freshwater around the world is in the form of snow. In fact, Antarctica holds about 80 percent of the world's fresh water in the form of ice and snow, according to Climate Generation.

Cool Facts About Snowflakes

Snow is pretty fun. Not only can you eat it, but you can play in the snow during the winter. Dive into a few exciting facts about snowflakes and snow you might not know!

Snowflakes Aren't White

Snow isn't actually white. Crazy right? But it's not. Snowflakes are actually translucent. So, light is reflected off of them. When it reflects, it creates a white appearance most of the time. But snow can also look kind of blue. And if you are in an area with a lot of air pollution, then it might have a gray appearance. Don't eat this snow!

Snowflakes Travel Slowly

Snowflakes have quite the journey when they come from the clouds. And while sometimes they feel like they are pelting you in the face at mock speed, they actually travel pretty slowly. On average, snowflakes fall at a speed of about three to four miles per hour. However, they can really crank up the speed during a blizzard or a snowstorm where winds make them fly a lot faster.

Some People Have Never Seen a Real Snowflake

Can you believe there are people who have never seen a real snowflake? Well, there are. You can find several places around the world that never see snow. Therefore, a large portion of the world's population has never seen a snowflake in real life. And it isn't just in far away places around the globe. You can find these places in the U.S. For example, places in Florida have never seen snow.

Snow Affects Sound

Ever notice how it's quieter when it snows? Maybe that's why parents like to curl up and watch it with a roaring fire. Whatever the case, it's quieter when it snows because snow absorbs sound. That's right; it absorbs sound! According to Michigan State University, snow is pretty porous and makes the world a quieter place when it falls. It's a natural sound buffer!

Mars Has Snowflakes

Earthlings like their snow. Evidently, so does Mars. It actually snows on Mars. While it's not the same snowflakes you might see here, during the winter, snow falls from clouds on Mars. This snow is made of carbon dioxide and can be really small. However, Mars can get a nice accumulation of snow.

Some People Fear Snowflakes

Some people are afraid of spiders and snakes, while others are afraid of snow. Fear of snow is called chionophobia. It's an extreme fear of snow or snowy weather. Much like arachnophobia and the fear of spiders, chionophobia causes extreme fear and anxiety when that person sees a falling snowflake.

Some Snow Smells Like Watermelon

There is snow that smells like watermelon. Blood snow or watermelon snow is a pink snow that smells faintly of watermelon. It's caused by an algae in the snow. So, the snow can be red or pink. However, even though it smells like watermelon, you don't want to eat it because it can cause a stomachache.

Fun Facts About Snowflakes

Snowflakes are pretty spectacular... and even more interesting than you might have realized. Keep your brain entertained with more mind-blowing facts by checking out facts about rainbows, polar bears and delightful hedgehog facts.

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17 Fun Facts About Snowflakes That May Surprise You