Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Stellar Dendrite et al.

On a short ski tour this morning, I was greeted by an old friend, the stellar dendrite.

Chances are you've seen plenty of these around the past few days.  Stellar dendrites form in a very select temperature range.  Typically something between -12ºC and -18ºC (10ºF and 0ºF).   Perhaps not surprisingly, temperatures at the top of Mount Baldy (11,000 ft) have been in this zone since this latest storm cycle started on Christmas Eve.

If you have a keen eye, you've probably noticed plenty of other ice crystal types.  A wide variety of crystals form in most winter storms, and many of those crystals are beat to hell as they fall to earth.  Sometimes they become rimed, which means that they become indistinguishable as they are coated in tiny cloud droplets.

A wider view of the photo above shows the diversity of ice crystals that were falling this morning (click to enlarge).

There are quite a few stellar dendrites, but also some ice crystals that are very small and not easily classified with the naked eye.  

Watching the flakes was a good way to kill time on the climb, but ultimately, it was all white and skied good.

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