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No. 133: JAN-FEB 2001

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Strange Snow Sculptures

The most familiar snowflakes are those feathery, six-armed dendritic crystals. However, snow sometimes falls as needles and plates. In GWP3 in Tornados, Dark Days..., we also catalog three observations of conical snow. These conical forms seem to be aggregates of tapered needles of ice. However, none of the foregoing shapes can surpass in strangeness the "snowflake" in the accompanying illustration.

Here we see the hexagonal symmetry retained in column form and again in the plates at each end of the icy dumbbell. What those peculiar iceworms projecting from the plates are is anyone's guess.

(Kaiser, Jocelyn; "Snow Up Close," Science, 289:503, 2000.

Comment. It is difficult enough to explain the formation of the common six-armed flakes; the worm-terminated dumbbells are even more puzzling. What sort of mechanism in the atmosphere can scuplt such complex shapes in prodigious quantities?

From Science Frontiers #133, JAN-FEB 2001. 2001 William R. Corliss

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