A guest post today by Erin Moan, a naturalist who writes about God’s amazing creation. Yes, there’s possible snow in the forecast this week!
It’s April. Honestly, who wants to see more snow? But snow, like most everything our Creator does, is an awesome work.
Snow begins with a tiny particle of dust high in the atmosphere. Water vapor in the air begins to freeze around the dust, and as it does so, the crystals freeze in patterns. These patterns are always six-sided. And yet, every single snowflake is different.
When you think of how many snowflakes it takes to make one snowfall, just in your town, and then think of the magnitude of the number of snowflakes that have fallen all over the world, not only this year but every year since the creation of the world, your head may begin to spin. In short, the word is incredible (which literally means unbelievable!).
There are several broad categories of snowflakes. Flat ones with wide, broad arms are called plates. These are the ones that you usually think of when you think of snowflakes. Then there are columns, which are shaped like a classic wooden pencil—six sided, of course. Some columns become “capped” on each end with a six-sided plate, resulting in something like a spool for thread. Needles are very thin, sharp columns. Dendrites are stars—similar to the plates, but with many branches and side branches, lacy and delicate.
We don’t often see the beauty of individual snowflakes because of their size, and also because many times when snow falls, the flakes clump together or break by the time they reach the ground. If you want to observe some of the intricate patterns for yourself, go out in the snow with a piece of black paper that has been in your refrigerator for awhile. The coolness of the paper will allow the flakes to remain for a few seconds while you examine them.
For some photographs of individual flakes that will blow your mind, visit Kenneth Libbrecht’s website, snowcrystals.com, and view the photo galleries, or check out his book, The Art of the Snowflake, from the library. It will be worth your time.
And all of the beauty of the individual flakes—most of it will melt away before any living person sees it. Still, it is God’s delight to make each flake an individual work of art. Even in April.
“All you have made will praise you, O Lord, and your saints will extol you.” Psalm 145:10
“If the Lord Almighty had consulted me before embarking on Creation, I should have recommended something simpler.” -Alphonso the Wise (1221-1289)