BRIDGEPORT, W. Va. (WDTV) - It's that time of year when the meteorologists here at WDTV will be talking about snow a lot but did you know that there are 35 distinct types of snowflakes?
The National Snow and Ice Data Center defines snowflakes as "single ice crystals or clusters of ice crystals that fall from a cloud." There are also polycrystals or snowflakes composed of many individual ice crystals.
The atmospheric conditions determine what type of snow crystal will grow.
When you think of snow you are most likely thinking of dendrites. These snow crystals grow at colder temperatures and are good for fast accumulations. Different temperature and moisture combinations grow a variety of crystal types: needles, prisms, plates and more.
Sometimes the snow falls through a layer of warm air in the atmosphere. The snow then melts but freezes when it reaches the ground and therefore creates a coating of ice on the trees and roadways. This is how we get freezing rain.
Sleet occurs when the melted snow is able to freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground.