Snow is a form of precipitation made up of individual ice crystals. These crystals grow within clouds and remain suspended in the atmosphere before falling to the ground. Once on the ground, they undergo further changes. During cold winter weather, snowfalls are particularly spectacular. Despite its beautiful appearance, snow is also a potentially dangerous weather condition.
The formation of snow occurs when temperatures drop to below freezing and a cloud contains enough water to form ice crystals. When these ice crystals collide, they become heavy and fall as flakes. The most heavy snowfalls usually fall during cold winter months, when air temperatures are around zero degrees Celsius. The temperature of the ground also influences snowfall formation.
The conditions for snowfall vary greatly from place to place. Some areas experience deep snow, while others experience only a dusting. This difference is caused by the intensity of wind during the storm, as well as the amount of melting after the storm. Also, the storm track determines the depth of the snowfall. Places that fall in the middle of a storm track will experience considerable snowfall, while locations located along the edge of the storm track will only get light snow.
Snowfall can dramatically change the landscape of a place, transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland. It also opens up a world of outdoor observation and exploration. Michigan State University Extension offers several programs and events to help families enjoy the beauty of snowy landscapes.