University of Utah Atmospheric Sciences Professor Tim Garrett and Cale Fallgatter have developed a remarkable instrument that they call the Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC) for taking pictures of snowflakes in freefall. With support from the National Science Foundation and assistance from Alta Ski Area and Daniel "Howie" Howlett, they have been operating the camera for two winters now in the Wasatch Mountains. Their data shows one of the dirty little secrets of the snow industry – that the majority of snowflakes made by mother nature, even in Utah, are defective. The are frequently beat up, broken, and covered with frozen cloud droplets sometimes called rime. The examples above are some of the nicer images they have captured. Below are some examples of heavily rimed snow crystals.
Source: Tim Garrett, University of Utah
A great story summarizing their efforts and their significance for improving weather forecasts is now available here. Have a look.