Groundhog Day Blizzard - 2011

February 2nd, 2011

We had a blizzard last night. (By 'we' I mean the mid section of the continental United States. ) Here in Michigan it started in the early evening, quickly accelerated, and lingered on till around noon today. At least a foot of snow fell overnight and in the morning. I reckon more like 16 inches.

Blizzards and other major snow events usually are not conducive to taking snow crystal photos. At least that has been my experience.  The snow crystals are usually  broken, battered or clumped together. A blizzard is particularly rough on the crystals, since by definition a blizzard has damaging high winds.

I ventured out a few times last night to watch the snow flying in the night, in the howling storm. As expected, any perfect crystals had been destroyed.

But this morning I managed to find a few intact crystals that fell from the sky, and took their photos with a crimson light.

Here are three snaps from this morning. As you see - they are worn and weathered, irregular (though whole) and they show arches and curves in their structure, which I find to be unusual:

(As always, click on the images for a larger view.) 

More December Snowflake Photographs

December 24th, 2010
Photograph of a Snowflake
This December has proven to be pretty cold - I noticed folks ice fishing in the last few day s- but aside from a little snow at the start of the month, it's been pretty dry. Here are a few more snow crystals from the second good snow of December . As this month winds into the holidays and then to an end, no snow is in the forecast. Hoping for a productive 2011!

As always - click on an image for a larger view.
Photograph of a Snowflake
Photograph of a Snowflake
Photograph of a Snowflake

First Snow Crystal Photos of 2010 / 11

December 7th, 2010

Hard to believe that one week ago today it was a balmy 53 degrees and warm gentle breezes were pushing the last fall leaves around on the sidewalks. The temperatures have dropped, the lake effect snow has begun, and here we are on December 6, with the first snow crystal shots of 2010/11. They aren't particularly interesting, but they hold the promise for more to come.

2011 AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Films Prize Nominee.

October 10th, 2010

The Story of Snow  has been nominated as a finalist in the has for the 2011 AAAS /Subaru Science Books & Films Prize for Excellence in Science Books.(AAAS stands for American Association for the Advancement of Science.) Nice to learn about this on the fall weekend when I cleaned out my garage to prepare for another season of snow crystal photography.

Read more and see the other fianlists at .

Mermaid Affair: A Celebration of Water

May 31st, 2010

A fascinating art exhibit dedicated to water in all its many forms will be opening June 1, 2010, at the Commerce Pointe Gallery in Battle Creek, Michigan. I contributed a couple of large snow crystal prints for the exhibit - which I believe are the only photographs of water as snow in the event. With a little luck, copies of The Story of Snow will be on hand at the gallery.

The opening reception will be Friday evening, June 11. The exhibit closes August 31, 2010.

For details, see

New Review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

March 28th, 2010

On March 14 the  Cleveland Plain Dealer reviewed several children's picture books that deal with snow. The Story of Snow was on the top of their list, being described as a "dazzling nonfiction picture book." You can see the whole review here.


Japanese Edition Coming Soon!

March 13th, 2010

An interesting package arrived in the mail earlier this week - it contained a couple of advance copies of The Story of Snow, Japanese edition. Here's a scan of the cover - the book is a bit smaller (physical dimensions) than the US edition. How cool!


- Mark

A Few Irregulars

March 7th, 2010

I hear the birds sing in the morning - the Cardinal with his 'bomb drop' song, the slurry scrabbly song of starlings at first light, and the 'To-hee to-hee chickachickadeedeedee' of Chickadees - the only bird that sings in deep winter, and gets all the more enthusiastic as spring starts to show.

Snow crystal season is coming to an end - another year.

Photographing snow crystals is a funny thing. I tend to select the best and the brightest, the most symmetrical, the most regular, the most ... extraordinary. It is a biased selection process, for sure. I wipe away thousand of snow crystals in an evening, and take photos of only a few dozen. There is a huge selection bias in play in the photos of snow crystals that are presented...

Of course - no one wants to see photos of the imperfect, the unsymmetrical, the broken or worn. That would be like walking down the street and looking at those passing by... Show us Hollywood Celebrities - the paragons of glamour - and not the ordinary dust of creation.

What can I say? It would be dishonest to ignore the vast numbers of irregular and flawed snow crystals. They outnumber the perfect ones one an incredible scale. So here are a few imperfect crystals - I have to say, they are more perfect than not, in that the truly disorganized have been ignored.

Irregular Snow Crystal

So - how many arms are on this crystal? I vote for ten, but it looks like nine or eleven are possible answers as well. And I thought snow crystals grew in multiples of six - but maybe not when they break up, fracture, grow and re-grow again.

Here's a crystal that is a little asymmetrical. It also has an interesting feature in that one pair of arms have grown across the center.

Irregular Snow Crystal

Here's another show showing a similar center band - the crystal was not laying flat on the glass, so the edges of the arms are visually soft.

Irregular Snow Crystal

 A snow crystal grows with a lack of symmetry when it lingers near a source of water on one side - lie passing by a big rain drop in the clouds - that creates a different in the relative humidity between one end of the crystal and the other. Here are three snow crystals showing this lack of symmetry - 

Irregular Snow Crystal

Irregular Snow Crystal
Irregular Snow Crystal

Here's a simple snow crystal that is a composite of three individual snow crystals - or were they really ever individual, or did it just start growing from three nearby nuclei?

Irregular Snow Crystal

And lastly - here is one that is not irregular at all. I think this is a Magono-Lee P6d - stellar with spatial dendrites.

Irregular Snow Crystal
Maybe next winter I'll come up up with a system to tak ejust a sandom sample of the snow crytals that fall - how many are imperfect or not?
For now I lokk forward to the inevitable change over to spring - the longer days, the singing birds, the greening of the trees and brush...
- Mark