Winter magic


Simple stars and stellar dendrites sparkle in the sunlight on a fence rail at the Huttner Weather Lab

They say no two snowflakes are alike.

That's probably true, but there are many similar categories of nature's beautiful winter creations. All snow crystals do have 6 sides. But there are many different crystal types that form depending on moisture and temperatures in the specific environment where they grow.

I'm not an expert in identifying snow crystal types, but I took a magnifying glass and a field identification guide out today and took a closer look at the sparkles in the snow outside the Weather Lab. Here are three varieties I think I found.

-Simple stars

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-Radiating hexagonal plates

-Stellar dendrites.

One of my favorite books is "The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty" by Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht of Cal Tech. Dr Libbrecht has done excellent work collecting, creating, and categorizing snow crystals.

Jet Streaming interview with Dr. Libbrecht

Enjoy the magic of winter as it sparkles outside on the landscape. Looking at the weather maps these days, there is plenty more "magic" on the way to enjoy!