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One of the Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower (1902) by Henri Rivière
One of the Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower (1902) by Henri Rivière

"Where are the snows of yesteryear?"--Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis

"During the night down came so thick a fall of snow that it completely covered up the stacks of arms and the men themselves lying down."--Anabasis (4th century BC) by Xenophon

In the Wild North (1891) by Ivan Shishkin
In the Wild North (1891) by Ivan Shishkin

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Snow comprises individual ice crystals that grow while suspended in the atmosphere—usually within clouds—and then fall, accumulating on the ground where they undergo further changes. It consists of frozen crystalline water throughout its life cycle, starting when, under suitable conditions, the ice crystals form in the atmosphere, increase to millimeter size, precipitate and accumulate on surfaces, then metamorphose in place, and ultimately melt, slide or sublimate away.

Snowstorms organize and develop by feeding on sources of atmospheric moisture and cold air. Snowflakes nucleate around particles in the atmosphere by attracting supercooled water droplets, which freeze in hexagonal-shaped crystals. Snowflakes take on a variety of shapes, basic among these are platelets, needles, columns and rime. As snow accumulates into a snowpack, it may blow into drifts. Over time, accumulated snow metamorphoses, by sintering, sublimation and freeze-thaw. Where the climate is cold enough for year-to-year accumulation, a glacier may form. Otherwise, snow typically melts seasonally, causing runoff into streams and rivers and recharging groundwater.

Major snow-prone areas include the polar regions, the northernmost half of the Northern Hemisphere and mountainous regions worldwide with sufficient moisture and cold temperatures. In the Southern Hemisphere, snow is confined primarily to mountainous areas, apart from Antarctica.

Snow affects such human activities as transportation: creating the need for keeping roadways, wings, and windows clear; agriculture: providing water to crops and safeguarding livestock; sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowmachine travel; and warfare. Snow affects ecosystems, as well, by providing an insulating layer during winter under which plants and animals are able to survive the cold.


  1. The frozen, crystalline state of water that falls as precipitation.
  2. A shade of the color white.
    snow colour:   
  3. Slang: Cocaine.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Snow" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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