Friday, January 3, 2014

Giant Snowflakes, Crystal Wonders that do Exist!

By Landskronadino

"How full of the creative genius is the air in which these are generated!
I should hardly admire more if real stars fell
and lodged on my coat"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1856

January is a month of almost constant snow here in Centre County, Pennsylvania. This morning snow and ice line our driveway and cling to the roads despite the best attempts of snowplows and salt trucks to remove them. Temperatures were in the single digits here earlier today. Brrrr. But the sparkling white blanket covering everything and reflecting the brilliant sunlight is stunning.

The flakes falling yesterday were small, almost indistinguishable from the sky at twilight. If you watched closely enough, you could see the sparkle of mini-sized crystals falling noiselessly. Extremely cold snowflakes can be barely perceptible, like they were last night, but when temperatures are somewhat warmer, softer, larger snowflakes collide and stick with each other creating astonishingly gigantic snowflakes.

Various reports have been shared by people claiming to have seen and measured snowflakes that were inches across. In 1887, on January 28th, a man claimed to have seen a pail-sized snowflake (15 inches across) fall in Fort Keogh, Montana (Guinness Book of World Records).

While this Frisbee sized snowflake sighting cannot be corroborated by additional witnesses, scientists, weather historians and field observers are concluding that "most of the reports (of large snowflakes) are true and that unusually large snowflakes two to six inches wide and perhaps wider fall regularly around the globe, surprisingly big and fluffy, if seldom witnessed or celebrated" (William J. Broad).

The wonder hasn't escaped Dr. Libbrecht, snowflake photographer and studier. He wrote in "Ken Libbrecht's Field Guide to Snowflakes" (Yoyageur Press, 2006), "It's quite a sight, to see such enormous ice flowers drifting through the air and landing on your sleeve!"


  1. This morning I awoke to yet more snow and instantly I felt my annoyance creep in to sour the beauty of the sight. With snow, traffic at the mall where I work is usually slow and I was merely focusing on the outlook of my day being slow and then very busy towards the end. But this was a reminder of the serenity and unique beauty that can be found in snow flakes. I love the quote you shared from Henry Thoreau; it captures the purity of snow fall. Thank you for sharing this. It really has helped readjust my perspective.

    1. Sometimes I wonder if this winter will ever be over too! Hang in there. Here in PA, we're enjoying yet another snowfall.