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What is snow made of?

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There's something magical about dashing through the snow and walking in a winter wonderland! In a recent poll you told us that your favourite thing about snow is catching snowflakes on your tongue. Building snow people, animals and forts is also a popular activity. And snowball fights, of course! But what is snow made of, anyway?

Water vapour, or water in the form of gas, forms high up in the clouds. If a cloud is cold enough, the water vapour freezes into tiny crystals of ice. As they fall to the ground, they clump together with other ice crystals to become snowflakes. There could be up to 100 crystals in a single snowflake!

The shape of a snowflake depends on the temperature and the amount of moisture in the cloud. Every snowflake has a unique design because of the many ways ice crystals can stick together. But scientists have managed to classify snowflakes into seven basic shapes. There are stars, needles, plates, columns, capped columns, dendrites (having branches – from a Greek word meaning tree), and last but not least, irregular! Take a closer look next time you make a snow angel. How many snowflake shapes can you spot before they melt away on your mitten?

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