Do you remember catching snowflakes on your tongue when you were a child? Is it true that no two snowflakes are exactly alike? The winter solstice has come and gone, making it officially winter in the U.S., with cooler temperatures, less sunlight and in some places: snow, ice, and frost. As a child, snowflakes meant building snow forts and playing mock “battles”, using snowballs as weapons. What fun it was to make snow tunnels and snow caves, as well as snow angels and snowmen. Remember sledding, tobogganing and skiing on the hills that near by? Perhaps snowflakes could even give you a day off of school.
Where does all this white stuff come from? Have you ever given thought to how snowflakes are formed? Well, a man named Wilson Bently, who is known as the “Snowflake Man”, was a self-educated farmer who dedicated his life to the study of snowflakes.
Wilson Bentley became intrigued with snowflakes when he was 15 years old. He tried drawing their intricate shapes but they usually melted before he could finish. When he was seventeen his parents bought him a bellows camera with a microscope inside that could magnify snowflakes. After much trial and error, he succeeded in photographing his first snow crystal in 1885. He spent the rest of his life exploring snowflake forms and he photographed more than 5,000 snow crystals, of which no two were alike. He was the first one to publish an article suggesting that all snowflakes looked different. Wilson Bentley wanted the world to know just how unique snowflakes were. To show the world his beautiful life’s work he published the book “Snow Crystals” when he was 66. During his life he wrote over 60 articles and books and was eventually dubbed The Snowflake Man. When he died in 1931, Bentley was the world’s snowflake expert. There is even a child’s book that’s been written about Bentley and his snowflake research. It’s called Snowflake Bentley.
Wilson Bentley is quoted as saying, “Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”
Little-Known Facts About Snow & Snowflakes
Scientists study snowflakes by spreading a chemical compound over a glass plate and waiting until a snowflake lands there. The compound immediately covers the snowflake and hardens. When the snowflake melts, it leaves behind a plastic case that shows its exact structure!
When combined, windblown snow and black dirt make what is called snirt.
A snow storm becomes a blizzard when visibility is under 1/4 mile and the storm continues for more than 3 hours with winds of 35 mph.
Stampede Pass, Washington averages 430 inches of snow per year. No wonder it’s known as the snow capital of the United States!
Be safe and enjoy the winter weather. See how many snowflake designs you can find. The fun is never ending in Brunswick Crossing. Snowflake season is here!