DISCUSSION: During the course of the Winter-time months all over the world, many regions periodically experience various types of snowstorms. During snowstorms, the operative issue which comes into play for the general public aside from colder temperatures and windy conditions is the occurrence of accumulating snowfall. Thus, a major concern for operational forecasters throughout the National Weather Service is to always have as much information as possible to create as accurate of a snowfall forecast as possible. There are many parts of a snowfall forecast which are critical to piecing together an accurate snowfall forecast, but some aspects of any given snowstorm are more important than others. For example, the height at which snowflakes form is a critical factor since that determines what sort of temperature and moisture regime the snowflakes form within.
Moreover, depending upon the persistence of the mid/low-level temperatures within a given snowstorm, that will also chiefly control the type of snowflakes which are generated since gradual differences in temperatures between approximately 32 and 0 degrees generate snowflake types which range from needles, to plates, to bars, to the most classic (and world-famous) dendrites. Attached below is an exact excerpt from the source article courtesy of the National Weather Service which discusses a bit more about the process by which snowflakes form.
"The intricate shape of a single arm of the snowflake is determined by the atmospheric conditions experienced by entire ice crystal as it falls. A crystal might begin to grow arms in one manner, and then minutes or even seconds later, slight changes in the surrounding temperature or humidity causes the crystal to grow in another way. Although the six-sided shape is always maintained, the ice crystal (and its six arms) may branch off in new directions. Because each arm experiences the same atmospheric conditions, the arms look identical."
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz