The national Science structure (NSF) released this new video around snowflakes on march 2, 2015. NSF sponsor a high-speed camera mechanism – developed at the university of Utah by college of Utah engineer Cale Fallgatter and also atmospheric scientist Tim Garrett – the they speak has got the clearest pictures ever before taken that free-falling snowflakes. The video, through Stephen McNally, traces the history of what most human being think castle know about snowflakes: that is, that a usual snowflake is a perfect symmetrical six-sided crystal. In fact, research argues that many snowflakes aren’t perfect.

You are watching: Real snowflakes falling from the sky

Instead, many of the snowflakes you view in softly fallout’s snow room aggregates of numerous snowflakes. Fallgatter and also Garrett’s camera – which recorded the snowflakes together they fell – showed them colliding and also sticking together throughout their fall from a cloud to Earth.

That means most snowflakes look favor this:

Modern cameras display that most snowflakes aren’t perfect and symmetrical. Many are aggregates – clumps of ice crystals grounding together.

The video explains the it was Wilson A. Bentley of Jericho, Vermont who was the first in the U.S. To picture snowflakes in the 1800s. Bentley ultimately coined the expression no 2 snowflakes room alike.

The hundreds of photos native Bentley’s collection developed our iconic watch of snowflakes: each perfectly symmetrical, however unique.

The new camera mirrors that snowflakes have a more intricate, imperfect beauty.

Wilson A. Bentley of Jericho, vermont was the an initial in the U.S. To capture thousands of image of snowflakes. The coined the phrase “no 2 snowflakes room alike.”
Bentley’s photograph collection of snowflakes provided us our iconic view of snowflakes together perfect and symmetrical.

The modern technology behind the camera might now reveal the potential risk of falling snow to travelers.

A less expensive, hardier version of the camera that proved snowflakes’ imperfection is being designed for usage by department of transportation to anticipate road conditions. Transport departments nationwide usage camera and also sensor equipment to collect and analyze data from weather stations come gauge roadway conditions. There might be 50 come 150 of this systems, referred to as road weather info system stations, in any type of given state.

They help determine eye plow routes and also preventative salting decisions, but their capacity to execute this well depends on the info they can collect about current conditions. And different types of precipitation can develop different conditions on roadways.

The brand-new camera system, called the current Weather Imager, is based upon Fallgatter and also Garrett’s beginning design. It has actually 1.3 megapixels, is industrial grade and priced to complete with weather stations in usage by department of transportation. The technology upon which it is based allows the mechanism to distinguish between different varieties of precipitation an ext precisely.

Ralph Patterson, a consultant meteorologist come the camera project, said:

There room a lot of weather detection sensors that differentiate between rain and snow. However you require pretty innovative visibility sensors and/or existing weather detectors to gain snowfall rates. With this camera you acquire the resolution of eye crystal kind and the density.

Thus the boosted knowledge of snowflakes has the potential to aid winter travelers continue to be safer.

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Read an ext about roadway safety v snowflake imaging, from NSF

Bottom line: A brand-new camera has taken the clearest photos of snowflakes ever before taken, mirroring that our iconic view of snowflakes as “perfect” isn’t true. Many snowflakes in free-falling snow space now well-known to it is in aggregates or clumps of snow crystals. This camera has actually the potential to help transportation departments projection road conditions an ext accurately.