If it’s one thing Canadians know a lot about, it’s snow! Every part of Canada gets to experience the beautiful fluffy stuff as well as all the other stuff that comes along with it.
Winter months are generally December, January, and February. Although, winter weather can start in November and last through late March or early April, making it a total of approximately five to six months of chilly weather.
Snow can come down in a variety of stages.
- Snow Flurries: This is where light snow falls for a short period of time. In this case, there is usually no accumulation or only a light dusting is expected.
- Snow Showers: This is when snow falls at differing intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is expected.
- Snow Squalls: Snow squalls happen when brief, intense snow showers are accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation is expected to be significant.
- Blowing Snow: This stage is when wind-driven snow reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the ground that is picked up by the wind.
- Blizzard: This happens when there are winds over 35 mph with snow and blowing snow, reducing visibility for a significant amount of time.
How is Snow Formed?
When cloud temperatures are at the freezing point or below and there is an ample supply of moisture in the air, ice crystals form around a core particle. As water vapor condenses and freezes, the unique pattern of a snowflake is born. The water molecules bond together into stable crystal structures.
Snow can be broken down into six basic patterns called needles, columns, plates, columns capped with plates, dendrites, and stars. Each type is the result of different atmospheric and temperature conditions within the cloud. You can do some research on your own to see what each shape looks like and make notes for observing later.
Depending on the temperatures, what happens after the snowfall can vary. You’ll find slushy conditions when snow is heavy and not melting fast enough, or you may find very icy conditions if snow is melting during the day and freezing overnight. Winter temperatures can get as cold as -40℃ in some parts of Canada, and this is a key factor in how icy it can become.
Now that you know a bit more about snow, let’s get outside and have some fun!
Before the Snowfall
Things you’ll need
- A notebook
- A pencil
- The weather channel
Listen to the weather forecast for when the next snowfall will occur. Take note in your journal of what the weatherman says about the conditions for the snowfall. If you can, go outside or sit by the window to observe the skies to see what you notice right before the snow falls. Note the temperature, if it’s sunny or cloudy, windy or calm.
When the Snow is Falling
Things you’ll need
- A cookie sheet (chilled)
- Magnifying glass
- Camera (for older kids)
- Dress warm!
Get a cookie sheet that you can take outside with you. Stick it in the fridge a little before you plan to be outside. This is important to help you catch some snowflakes! If your cookie sheet is cold, then it won’t melt as fast, and you’ll be able to examine your snowflakes a little longer. As you catch some snowflakes, grab your magnifying glass and observe the unique designs. See if you can label each style of snowflake from your research on the different types of snowflakes. Record your findings in your notebook.
For older students: Grab a camera and take as many close-ups of each unique snowflake to study in more detail. Use your camera to zoom in to examine the little details.
Hint: Make sure you dress warm! Cover your mouth and nose when observing snowflakes close-up. Your warm breath might melt your specimen!
After the Snowfall
Time to measure the snow! Grab your rulers and start to measure from the ground up. How much snow has fallen? Over the course of winter, you can go out and measure multiple times and see the difference each time. Consider if there were differences in temperature and how long the snow fall lasted as well. Don’t forget to record your findings!
There are many people in the world who do not get to experience snow like we do here in Canada. Take advantage of the gift of snow and get outside and play!
This article has been written by homeschooling staff writers of The Canadian Schoolhouse (TCS). Enjoy more of our content from TCS contributors and staff writers by visiting our themes page that has a new theme topic added every month!