Will it snow?

winter_trees

My daughter was hoping for a white Christmas but, given that we live in the warm, south-western corner of England, the chances of snow each winter are small and the likelihood of snow on Christmas Day is even lower. And even though we’ve had days when it’s been cold enough for ice to form on the car windscreen, I don’t think we’ve seen any snowfall for a year or two. So, what has to happen for it to snow?

Remember when I talked about the water cycle in my answer to what do clouds taste like? Well, just like clouds, snow is part of the water cycle – it’s basically a kind of frozen rain.

When the temperature gets cold – close to zero degrees (the temperature at which water freezes on Earth) – water droplets in the air turn into tiny ice crystals. These ice crystals can clump together to make snowflakes and, when they get big and heavy enough, they fall down to the ground. We call this kind of weather ‘snow’.

Snowflakes are beautiful and interesting because they are all different. Did you know that each snowflake has six sides or points like a hexagon? If you want to have a go at making your own snowflake out of paper, here are some instructions on how to do it.

But will it snow this winter? The UK’s Met Office has lots of scientists who use science and technology to make measurements and try to predict what the weather will be like. But it can be tricky to predict if it will snow rather than rain because small changes in temperature can affect whether or not any tiny ice crystals will form in the clouds.

So, I don’t know whether it will snow or not but, if it does, you can be sure that we’ll be hoping there’s enough of the white stuff to build a snowman!

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