"Snowflakes - The Explanation"
On this date in 2008 a few "piles" of snow lingered in south Louisiana. On December 11, 2008, snowfall depths ranged from three to eight inches in the Baton Rouge area. Since then, additional episodes have occurred and as noted in a previous column the stages of snow begin eight miles above the earth where water vapor condenses and becomes liquid. As the droplets grow, ice crystals form around tiny particles floating in the atmosphere. The third stage identifies snow crystals depicting a six-sided molecular structure and depending upon the atmospheric temperature they take on different forms as plates, needles, dendrites and hollow columns and additional water vapor condenses onto the crystals and they enlarge. Increased weight causes the crystals to fall into warmer air forming larger flakes.