Winter is officially here in Fargo, North Dakota! The first snow has fallen, and Midwesterners are taking their winter coats and boots out of storage until further notice. Although some people get down on winter weather, we can have fun with snow this winter through different winter science activities! Create a daily snow log to track the kinds of snow you see, the types of snowfall you experience, and the kinds of snow formations you identify!
Before you start on your activities, let’s learn a little bit more about this fluffy white stuff we call snow.
Use this website, “All About Snow,” to answer your snow questions!
Most of us know that snow cannot form unless it is below freezing temperatures (32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius), but did you know that snow will not form if it is too cold? It’s true! Because colder air holds less water vapor, it is more difficult for snow to form when the temperature is extremely cold. Snow usually does not form below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
What kinds of snow are there?
There is a rumor out there that the Inuit have over 100 words for snow! Although that may be a myth, there really are many words to describe specific types of snow.
Find out the difference between the four following types of snow!
Use this Snowflake Guide to identify specific kinds of snowflakes that you find this winter!
Did you know there is a difference between a blizzard and a snowstorm? A snowstorm requires a large amount of snowfall, while a blizzard is accompanied by violent winds, low visibility, and lasts at least three hours!
What kinds of snow cover are there?
There are many different kinds of snow cover. In the Midwest, we get seasonal snow every year. Seasonal snow is snow that only stays for one season.
- What are the other types of snow cover?
What types of snow formations have you seen?
Snow formations include snow cornices, snow crusts, snow dunes, among many others. Have you ever walked carefully on top of crunchy snow, trying not to fall through? The crunchy, frozen snow on top is the snow crust! The snow crust covers the softer snow underneath.
At the end of this winter, your snow log should be full of interesting snow observations! You can include pictures and drawings along with your descriptions to make your log even more accurate and detailed. Use a snow gauge to add data about snowfall to your daily snow log.
Track the inches of snow by creating a snow gauge.
YOU WILL NEED:
- Scissors or knife
- 2-liter pop bottle
- Permanent marker
- Tape measure or ruler
YOU WILL DO:
- Ask an adult for help!
- Use a scissors or knife to cut the top off of an empty 2-liter pop bottle. Cut at the point where the bottle starts to taper off. Once you cut the top off, your bottle should be a cylinder.
- Pour a few inches of sand into your bottle. This is to weigh your bottle down so it does not blow over.
- Measure your pop bottle from the top of the sand to the top of the bottle.
- Mark each inch on your pop bottle with your permanent marker.
- Go outside and locate a place where your bottle could collect snow. Under a tree would not be a good spot, since the branches may block some of the snowfall.
- Each time it snows, check your bottle and record the number of inches in your daily snow log!
Figure out the snow water equivalent
Some people assume that ten inches of snow equals about one inch of water. This is not always the case!
- Measure how many inches of snow are in your snow gauge.
- Bring your snow gauge inside and let the snow melt into water.
- Measure how many inches of water are now in your snow gauge.
- What is the water-to-snow ratio? For example, if I had 8 inches of snow, and when it melted I had 1 inch of water, the water-to-snow ratio would be 1:8.
- If you want to find out the percent, take 1 (inches of water) divided by 8 (inches of snow). 1/8 = 0.125. Multiply your answer by 100 to get the percent. 0.125 x 100 = 12.5%. This means that for the amount of snow you measured, 12.5% of that measurement is the amount of water you measured.
- Do this on a regular basis to track how temperature, wind, and the different kinds of snowfall affect the water-to-snow ratio!