Story of the world’s largest snowflake – facts about snow

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Lately we have been covering lot of stories related to winter in Finland. This time around, we will be sharing something different, as it is time to tell a very interesting fact related to snow (which is an important aspect in the travel industry of Finland): the story of world’s largest snowflake.
Snowflakes can form all kinds of shapes

Snowflakes can form large patterns

As we all probably already know, single snowflakes usually are quite small and light, which makes them float in the air, especially in a lighter snowfall. Sometimes, though, these small snowflakes tend to stick together and form a bigger pattern that can reach quite respectable size.

Thanks to this fact, it is reasonable common to have big snowflakes sized about 3-5 centimeters. This happens especially when the temperature is above zero and the snow is more wet than the one that is falling in sub-zero temperatures.

The world’s biggest snowflake

Things got a little bit different on January 28th, 1887, in the US as there were nothing common in the size of the snowflakes floating in the air in army base of Fort Keogh in Montana.

Throughout the day the falling snowflakes had been exceptionally big, but the largest one of all the time was a true exception even for this extraordinary day. The soldiers, who were guarding Fort Keogh, witnessed very bizarre sight when the largest ever snowflake was falling from the sky.

The flake was sized 38 centimeters and it was also 20 centimeters thick, meaning that the snowflake falling from the sky was the size of a pile of regular dinner plates.

As we also know, especially kids all around the world like to play a game, where they try to catch the snowflakes with their tongues, when they are falling from the sky. Imagine trying to do this with this giant snowflake.

Scientific theories about the subject

According to scientific theories, these kinds of giant snowflakes can actually form fairly easily. This kind of things tend to happen when heavy and wet snow is falling from the sky in almost windless conditions.

Under these conditions, flakes that have a slight surface sheen of water easily stick together and form larger patterns of snowflakes that can grow large. So, this giant flake of Fort Keogh was formed of thousands if not millions of smaller flakes.

Since biggest known snow crystal measured has only been little over than 1 centimeter from tip to tip, there must have been hundreds of them forming this one massive snowflake. The world record snowflake was so exceptional that here in Europe no flake has been able to compete with it.

The biggest measured snowflake in Europe landed in Berlin on January 10th in 1915 and this flake was “only” about 10 centimeters wide.

Coverage in the media

But let’s get back to the world record snowflake in the US. This subject also raised lots of attention in the news and media. Reports of that time named this sight as the “Giant Snowflake”, and the subject was widely reported throughout the United States of America.

The popular reports also woke up some stir among people in the US as many people claimed to have seen larger flakes than the one, which was now also holding the official world record. Many reported findings were mentioned having the size of a toy Flying Saucer, Frisbee, or even a milk pan.

Scientists and historians who were conducting their own studies and research wider about this topic were also telling that there may have been even larger and thicker snowflakes which could have fallen, and these flakes might have been even up to 6 inches longer than the one in Keogh. These mostly had gone unreported due to the lack of photographic evidence.

The official world record

It might be hard to imagine or even believe that this big snowflake can exist. Luckily this is not a thing of believing as the biggest snowflake in the history has also made its place in the famous Guinness Book of World Records.

The current world record can of course be beaten anytime as every snowflake falling from the sky has the potential to grow into a giant. However, the exceptional nature of the Fort Keogh Giant Flake is very well illustrated by the fact that the official world record has been in place for more than 130 years.

Sources and about the subject elsewhere: WorldAtlas | Did You Know The Largest Snowflake Ever Recorded Was 15 Inches Wide? NY Times | Snowflakes as big as frisbees

Main image of the article: Egor Kamelev | Pexels

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