What Are the Types of Snowflakes?

types-snowflakes Credit: Nancy Rose/Moment/Getty Images

Scientists classify snowflakes into many different categories: simple prisms, stellar plates, stellar dendrites, fernlike stellar dendrites, capped columns, double plates, 12-sided snowflakes and rimed crystals. Despite the fact that all of the flakes form a hexagonal shape, none of them appear to be exactly the same. Classifying snowflakes is a difficult task. Classifications of snowflakes have ranged from six types to 35 types.

Contrary to how snowflakes appear as they accumulate on the ground, trees and other surfaces, they are actually clear and not white. Snowflakes can appear to be any color because they absorb visible sunlight. Scientists have found snow in a wide range of colors including black, blue and pink.

Snowflakes start out as small as a speck of dirt. As the specks fall, they come together to form snowflakes. Scientists refer to the process of creating a snowflake as crystallization. The shapes that the snowflakes take is influenced by the atmosphere and its condition.

Rochester, New York is the United States city that has the most snow each year. On average, the city sees about 94 inches of snow each year. The largest snowflakes fell in the state of Montana. The flakes had a diameter of 15 inches.