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Journey of a Snowflake

The existence of a snowflake is a journey — like your life, which is a journey, too.

It starts in a cloud. Clouds carry drops of water vapor. Clouds also contain tiny particles of dust. Drops of the water vapor cling to the dust particles. When conditions are cold enough, the water freezes into crystals and a snowflake is born. Crystals can attach in many different ways to make infinite patterns — "infinite" means more numbers than anyone could ever count. The temperature, what the cloud is like and other factors influence how the snowflake grows. So it is probably true that no two snowflakes are alike. Each one is unique — like you are unique from everyone else who has ever lived. Each snowflake has a journey ahead of it: some parts of the journey are common to all snowflakes, some parts are unique.

The next part of the journey is the same for every snowflake: it falls to the earth. But where it falls can vary. The snowflake may fall on a warm sidewalk and melt into water right away. It may fall on cooler grass and stick. I like it when a snowflake falls gently on my eyelashes. Do you? The snowflake may even fall on top of other snowflakes, making piles of snow you can use to build snow kids.

Eventually, though, all snowflakes take the same journey of melting into water. Some water is soaked into the ground and nourishes plants, flowers and even vegetables, like tomatoes. Some water runs in gullies to rivers, which meet the oceans, the biggest gatherings of ex-snowflakes on the planet!

Water from the oceans and plants and other sources evaporates when it gets warm and turn into water vapor. Where does the water vapor go? Back up into the clouds! Our snowflake has returned from where it began.

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Last updated on Tuesday, July 9, 2013.

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