How fast do snowflakes fall?
How fast do snowflakes fall? Does wind slow them down?
According to snow expert Nolan Doesken, the vast majority of snowflakes, probably 95 percent of them, fall at speeds of one to six feet per second. Doesken, a Chicagoan, is the State Climatologist for Colorado at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University. The surface area and weight of a snowflake are the primary factors affecting its fall speed. Large flakes act like parachutes and fall slower, but kernel-like snow pellets known as “graupel” can fall much faster. Temperature, too is a factor. Heavy, wet snowflakes – the kind that fall when temperatures are above freezing – fall faster. Surprisingly, snowflake fall speed is independent of horizontal wind. Even during high winds, they still at one to six feet per second.