How does Snow Form?


Snow relies heavily on temperature, not necessarily the temperature we feel on the ground but the temperature in the atmosphere. Snow forms when the temperature is at or below freezing point (0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit). If the ground temperature is at or below freezing point, the snow will reach the ground. However, if the ground is at least 5 degrees celsius (or 41 degrees Fahrenheit), snow will not form.

It can be too warm to snow, but it can’t be too cold to snow. As long as there’s some moisture to cool or lift the air, snow will occur. It is true that most heavy snowfalls occur in warm air near the ground. Reason behind that is because warmer air hold more water vapor. Because snow requires moisture, very cold but very dry areas will rarely receive snow. Extremely cold regions receive little snow because of its low humidity and strong winds – removing moisture from the air.



Shapes of the snowflakes are determined by the chemistry of water. Snowflakes are formed as grains of dust float in the clouds. In the clouds, water vapors sticks to these dusts or grains and freezes, forming ice. From there, each snowflake morphs into unique shapes as it travels to the ground. Snowflakes can have a similar shape; however, will not be exactly the same. No two snowflake are alike.



  • All snowflakes have 6 sides.
  • Average snowflake falls at a speed of 3.1 miles per hours (5 kilometers).
  • A snowflake is made up of 180 billion molecules of water.
  • Snow is clear and colorless.

Lawrence Hernandez
California Air Conditioning Systems, Inc. 
p. 310.530.0504 | f. 310.530.4004 | 24hr. 310.505.5700

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