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Mind-Blowing Facts About Snow You Never Knew

by Gary Reading, Feb 2019

Snow isn’t actually white

That’s right. Snow is actually clear. Snowflakes are made out of ice crystals, so when light passes through, it bends and bounces off each individual crystal. The entire spectrum of light is reflected back to our eyes, and we see white snow. So there’s actually no such thing as a White Christmas, but that sounds a lot catchier than Translucent Christmas. 

Snowflakes always have six sides

It’s science. The water molecules that snowflakes are made of can only fit together in a way that results in a six-sided ice crystal. So those snowflake decorations and ornaments you see with five or eight sides? Don’t buy them. You’d be breaking a law of nature.

Some snowflakes are the same

Oh, the things you can discover with microscopes. In 1988, Nancy Knight, a scientist at the National Center for Atmosphere Research in Colorado, found two identical snowflakes that came from a storm out of Wisconsin. Next time you want to tell someone how unique he or she is, don’t use a snowflake as an example.

Snow can be scary

To some people, at least. There’s even a term for it: Chionophobia.

Snowstorms are not blizzards

Besides the fact that “blizzard” just sounds a lot more threatening than “snowstorm,” the real difference between the two is in wind speeds and visibility. According to the National Weather Service, a blizzard must have large amounts of snow, winds blowing over 35 miles per hour, and visibility of less than a quarter mile.

There’s a perk to catching snowflakes on your tongue

About 75 percent of Earth’s freshwater is found in snow and ice, including glaciers. They cover 10 percent of the planet’s entire surface.