With snowfall on the minds of residents across the state, one may be reminded of that old adage - “No two snowflakes are alike.”
Well, turns out, that's not exactly true.
For those who study snow, it's all about shapes. There's the tree-like dendrites, needles, plates, stars... the list goes on and on. These shapes are further complicated when microscopic layers of ice attach themselves to snow - those flakes are called graupel.
So, while there are a variety of categories of snowflake crystals, within each category, things get a little less special.
Appalachian State professor Baker Perry says when you compare snowflakes, there are many that look nearly identical. So, as far as that old saying?
“Well, there are many similarities. You really have to have a high-resolution photo to see the differences. At first glance, if you don't have a lot of magnification, they are fairly similar. So I would say there's not complete truth in that statement. There are certainly a lot of similarities with some of the crystal types that we see,” says Perry.
While snowflakes may not be as unique as we hoped, they are never dull. Perry says that the atmosphere never ceases to surprise him, and snow continues to be incredibly unpredictable.