The Science Behind Snow

How Do Snowflakes Form?

A snowflake forms when an extremely cold water droplet freezes onto a pollen or dust particle in the sky, creating an ice crystal. As the ice crystal falls to the ground, water vapor freezes onto the initial crystal, building new crystals, or the arms of a traditionally known snowflake. Long, needle-like crystals form at 23 degrees fahrenheit(F) and flat, plate-like crystals at 5 degrees fahrenheit(F).

The only consistency in snow is cold, sometimes down right frigid, temperatures.

5 Interesting Facts About Snowflakes

  1. Snowflakes are NOT White – Snowflakes are actually translucent and only appear white as light passes thru scattering in multiple directions.
  2. Snow Affects Sound & Hearing – Freshly fallen snow absorbs sound waves, giving everything a hushed ambience.
  3. Snow Phobia – You can be afraid of snowfall, the fear of snow is a condition called chionophobia.
  4. Snow can warm you up – Snow is comprised of 90% to 95% of trapped air, making it a great insulator. In arctic communities this is why Igloos are warmer inside than the arctic temperatures. At -45 degrees outside, the Igloo will be warmer by ~30-38 degrees inside.
  5. Snowflakes fall slowly – Snowflakes can fall at as rate of 9 mph in some situations. It takes roughly an hour for a snowflakes journey from cloud to ground. In fact, snow travels slow enough in freefall that depending on the wind speed, snowflakes can travel great distances in that hour. So great the the originating clouds producing the snow could be well passed before the flake actually hits the ground.

Annual Snow Volume & Accumulation

What are we really talking about in terms of how much snow?

Each year, approximately one quadrillion cubic feet of snow falls somewhere on our planet. Each of those cubic feet contains roughly a few billion individual snowflakes. In Colorado, we average ~57″ of accumulation each year in Denver. This varies in different locations around Colorado, but annually expect ~5′ of snow each year. Beautiful to some and a liability to others, now let’s talk removal.

Understanding the Science of Snow Removal

What is Sublimation?

Sublimation the process of using the sun’s energy to evaporate the solid snow directly to a vapor state. Seemingly effective, but not always the most efficient way of melting those flakes! Unpredictable, locational, and not sustainable 24 hours a day, lingering, or refrozen snow, can pose large issues. As greater volumes of snowfall may take longer to melt in totality.

How Do Deicers Work?

Solid deicers or ice melt works by breaking the bond that forms between ice, fallen snow and any surface. The deicer lowers the snow’s melting point and creates a solution. That solution spreads and eventually reaches the surface below breaking the bond between the two.

It is important to note that there are exothermic deicers that, through the process, emit heat further expediting the process. The use of solid deicers has most literally become the new scientifically engineered option for precise, predictable and sustainable snow melting.

Get More Efficient Snow Removal in Colorado

Snowology employs the science of snow to benefit our customers and make snow removal more efficient. Our team is comprised of experienced, veteran Snowologists, who understand different types of snowfall and best to keep you property clear and safe through any winter storm.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for your snow removal needs.