How Big Was the Largest Snowflake Ever Recorded?

Fort Keogh, nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Montana, USA, boasts a remarkable claim to fame—one that involves an event dating back over a century ago, on January 28th, 1887. In the vast expanse of this former United States Army post, the world witnessed the descent of the largest snowflake ever recorded.

According to Guinness World Records, the man who stumbled upon this meteorological marvel was Matt Coleman, a ranch owner in Fort Keogh. His account of the colossal snowflake remains etched in history: a staggering fifteen inches (38 cm) wide and eight inches (16 cm) deep, as reported in the Monthly Weather Review Magazine.

DateEvent
January 28, 1887Matt Coleman discovers the world’s largest snowflake in Fort Keogh.
Present DayThe colossal snowflake continues to be a historical meteorological marvel.

A Snowflake Larger Than Life

Fort Keogh, nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Montana, USA, boasts a remarkable claim to fame—one that involves an event dating back over a century ago, on January 28th, 1887.
Fort Keogh, nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Montana, USA, boasts a remarkable claim to fame—one that involves an event dating back over a century ago, on January 28th, 1887.
( Image By : medium )

Imagine a snowflake surpassing the dimensions of antique milk pans—measuring two to four inches deep and sixteen inches across. Coleman’s description paints a vivid picture of a snowflake that defies the delicate, symmetrical shapes commonly associated with these frozen wonders. The absence of photographic evidence leaves room for speculation, but experts suggest that such colossal snowflakes likely resembled more chaotic and aggregated forms, akin to “fuzzy snowballs.”

The Science Behind the Enormous Snowflake

Sandra Yuter from NC State’s Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmosphere Sciences sheds light on the formation of these oversized snowflakes. Unlike the carefully crafted shapes we imagine, these aggregates result from varying levels of moisture and temperature, combining with different speeds of descent. Known as aggregate snowflakes, they lack the pristine geometric patterns and often resemble clusters of “fuzzy snowballs.”

The enormity of these snowflakes is attributed to the amalgamation of numerous ice crystals and frozen droplets. While there is no defined limit to their size, the conditions have to be ideal for these large flakes to form. Wind turbulence typically breaks up larger aggregates, but in Fort Keogh, the record-setting snowflake found its way down under conditions of minimal or no wind and ample moisture in the air.

A Snowflake Anomaly

The uniqueness of this colossal snowflake lies not only in its size but in its rarity. The saying goes that no two snowflakes are alike, and a fifteen-inch snowflake is undoubtedly a testament to this natural diversity. The question lingers—can a snowflake truly attain such monumental proportions?

FAQs

Is there photographic evidence of the largest snowflake in history?

No, there is no photographic evidence of the snowflake witnessed by Matt Coleman in Fort Keogh.

Why did the snowflake reach such colossal dimensions?

The enormous size is attributed to the formation of aggregate snowflakes, which result from the combination of various ice crystals and frozen droplets under specific weather conditions.

How rare are snowflakes of this size?

Extremely rare. The record-setting snowflake required ideal conditions with minimal wind and abundant moisture in the air.

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