About us: We own a wild bird feeding supply nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is the Largest Recorded Snowflake?

Mother Nature gave us a taste of spring and then dumped 10 inches of snow on everyone in mid-Michigan. The flakes in my area were quite large and made me wonder how large can a snowflake grow?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest snowflake ever recorded was 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick! It was reported by ranch owner Matt Coleman at Fort Keogh, Montana, on January 28, 1887.

Before you discount the rancher’s finding, you should know that according to a NY Times article “weather officials in Berlin reported a winter storm of January 1915 that produced snowflakes up to four inches wide. The big flakes not only fell more rapidly than the small flakes, but also did not swirl about to the same extent. The officials added that most were shaped like round or oval bowls or dishes with upturned rims. They did rock to and fro in the wind but at no time were they observed to turn over completely so that the concave side would face downward.”

The article goes on to say that “theorists, weather historians and field observers are concluding that most of the reports are true and that unusually large snowflakes two to six inches wide and perhaps wider fall regularly around the globe, surprisingly big and fluffy, if seldom witnessed or celebrated…The laws of physics suggest no obvious restrictions on the size of very large flakes.”

Dr. Kenneth G. Libbrecht, Chairman of the physics department at the California Institute of Technology and a snowflake devotee, was quoted in the article and has written several books. His website explains everything you want to know about snowflakes at http://www.snowcrystals.com/.

NY Times: Snowflakes as Big as Frisbees?

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Anonymous said...

so cool

betsy said...

i know

Anonymous said...

wow that is one big snowflake cooool