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Natural Snowflakes
  --Photo Gallery I
  --Photo Gallery II
  --Photo Gallery III
  --Guide to Snowflakes
  --Snowflake Books
  --Historic Snowflakes
  --Ice Crystal Halos
  --Snowflake Store
Designer Snowflakes
  --I: First Attempts
  --II: Better Snowflakes
  --III: Precision Snow
  --Snowflake Movies
  --Free-falling Snow
  --Designer's Page
Frost Crystals
  --Guide to Frost
  --Frost Photos
Snowflake Physics
  --Snowflake Primer
  --Snow Crystal FAQs
  --No Two Alike?
  --Crystal Faceting
  --Snowflake Branching
  --Electric Growth
  --Ice Properties
  --Myths and Nonsense
Snow Activities
  --Snowflake Watching
  --Photographing Snow
  --Make Your Own
  --Snowflake Fossils
  --Ice Spikes
  --Activities for Kids
Snowflake Touring
  --Snowflake Hot Spots
  --Northern Ontario
  --Hokkaido, Japan (2) (3)
  --Michigan U. P.
  --California Mountains
Copyright Issues
Snowflake Touring -- Michigan Upper Peninsula

   The Michigan Upper Peninsula is widely known for getting great quantities of snow, so I had to visit to check out the crystals.  My base was the town of Houghton, in the middle of the Keewenaw peninsula (see map).

   Snow is certainly in good supply in and around Houghton in January.  On average it snows about an inch per day.  If you thought shoveling your driveway was bad, consider the fellow in the first picture above -- he starts with the roof and works his way down!

   The source of all the snow is Lake Superior, which surrounds the Keewenaw peninsula.  The lake almost never freezes over, and vapor steams off the water's surface when the temperature is low (first picture at right).  (The second picture shows a bald eagle I found overlooking the lake.)
   The wind picks up all this moisture over the lake and it doesn't usually travel far.  It turns into snow and covers the Upper Peninsula.

   Alas, quantity does not equal quality.  Most of the falling snow consists of small, granular crystals, seen in the pictures at right.  I spent many a day watching this stuff fall, not even bothering to get out my camera.

   The snow wasn't all grainy junk, however.  One day I found these most amazing capped columns, shown at left.  They might be more appropriately called capped needles, since each is a good-sized needle capped with extraordinarily thin plates.  (See the Guide to Snowflakes for more about the different kinds of crystals.)
   These are quite unusual crystals -- I haven't seen anything quite like them before or since.

   A good crop of icicles is a rare sight these days.  They form when heat from the house melts the snow on the roof, so water drips down and refreezes.  With energy costs high, most people insulate their attics so well that big icicles are mostly a thing of the past.

Return to was created by Kenneth G. Libbrecht, Caltech
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