Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Wonders of Snow

Hello everyone! I hope you all have had a good week. Let's start off with our "usuals" before going into our topic of the week.

Days Till
It is: 10 days till Groundhog Day
It is: 20 days till Abraham Lincoln's Birthday
It is: 22 days till Valentine's Day

In the Spotlight
Dolphin Tale 2 has just wrapped up filming! The film will be released September 23, 2014.

Topic of the Week
It's used to build snowmen out of, it's used in snowball fights, we shovel it from our sidewalks and driveways, and causes many car-related accidents each year. I'm talking about snow! It's quite literally everywhere in the more northern parts of the northern hemisphere during the winter months. But even though we all know what snow is, many don't know and haven't even thought about how it forms, why it falls, the conditions in which snow falls and many other things. So today, since it's still very snowy in many parts of the world during this time of year, these are just some of the things we're going to learn about.

Snowmen is one of the most common uses for snow.
So what exactly is snow? Well, your typical answer would be something like “that white, fluffy stuff on the ground that falls from the sky during winter time”, and your typical school kid's answer would be something like “that white, fluffy stuff on the ground that falls from the sky that delivers us from the bondage of school!” In all seriousness though, snow is actually precipitation in the form of crystalline iced water. Snow's origins (there's a topic you don't hear everyday!) are not known to well; we have no idea if snow ever was present in the world before the Genesis Flood around 4,350 years ago, but based on geological finds, we believe that if it ever did fall, it wasn't very often and the temperature of the pre-Flood world wasn't all that cold. What sorts of geological finds am I talking about? Well, one prime example is the findings of fossilized trees in what are today known as the polar regions. These trees are not only the ones you'd find in the tropics today, but they also lack frost rings, meaning if it did ever get freezing, it wasn't often, if ever.

Snow started falling in great bunches after the climax of the Genesis Flood. Thanks to the warm temperature of the oceans (which were made warm by the volcanic activity during the Flood), much water was evaporated and clouds formed. It is important to know that the land after the Flood was relatively cold in many places, so when it was time for the clouds to drop their loads, it fell down as snow in some places . . . lots of snow! The snow built up so much after several hundred years had past, the snow had turned to ice that covered much of the Northern hemisphere in great sheets known as glaciers. We call this period of time following the Flood “the Ice Age”. The glaciers eventually disappeared at the end of the Ice Age, about 700 years following the Flood.

How exactly is snow formed? Contrary to popular belief, snow isn't merely frozen water – that's ice. The actual formation of snow takes place when a drop of really cold water (and I do mean really cold!) freezes onto a tiny particle of dust or pollen and crystallizes. This “ice crystal” then proceeds to fall to the ground from the clouds and water vapor freezes to the primary crystal, causing it to reshape itself into the six-armed snowflakes we all know and love. (Keep that in mind the next time you try to catch snowflakes on your tongue).

Snowflakes are so beautiful! Did you know that no two snowflakes look alike?
So now that we now how it's caused, what needs to take place in order for snowfall to take place? The most obvious thing is that it needs to be cold, otherwise when the “snow” falls, it will quickly melt into water and the water vapor crystal can't freeze to the original ice crystal. The temperature But there's another key thing: the ice crystals have to be heavy enough to drop from the clouds. Once heavy enough, gravity does its job of pulling the snowflake down to earth where bunches of little snowflakes add up . . . often times very fast!

Even though snow causes many fatal vehicle accidents each year, there are some positive things that snow does for us. First of all, many people have fun sledding, snowboarding and skiing when there's enough snow on the ground. Sleighs and sleds pulled by horses, dogs or other animals are also a fun winter activity that many enjoy. Snow is also used in other outdoor activities such as building snowmen, having snowball fights and making snow angels.

Did you know that snow can also be beneficial to agriculture? Did you ever notice when it's snowing how it seems warmer out during winter? That's because when a layer of snow falls, it can keep the heat of the earth and protect precious crops from freezing cold winter chills. And when the snow melts and refreezes on sensitive crops such as oranges, it can protect them from those colder days during the winter. There's also another added bonus when snow melts: the water released from melting snow waters the crops.

Now you know all about snow – it's formation, the conditions in which it needs to fall and even a little bit about how important it can be to agriculture! Let's thank God for allowing us to enjoy this wonder of nature that He's allowed to happen for our enjoyment!

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PS 4: Some or all of the photographs in this article may not my own and I do not claim ownership to them.

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