Thousands of tourists visit the mountains every year, not only to explore the scenic beauty that high altitudes have to offer but also to experience snowfall.
Just like rain and hailstones, snow too falls from the sky; but unlike the former, snow is more appealing to people mostly because of the element of fun associated with it, be it through the social activities of building a snow man, having a snowball fight, sliding down the hill on a sled, etc.
Even more fascinating is the feel of fresh, cotton-like flurries falling onto your skin. Snowflakes are so light that they feel almost weightless.
But have you ever wondered what snow is made up of?
What causes the formation of snowflakes?
How is ice different from snow?
Snow actually forms when water in clouds directly freezes up due to very low temperatures and falls to the ground in a solid state. But, due to its light weight, unlike hailstones, snow does not hurt while falling. It falls only at higher altitudes where temperatures are below freezing point. At temperatures around or below – 40°C, snow falls in the form of crystals called snowflakes. Sometimes, snowflakes resemble snow-balls when they get stuck together. Microscopic images show that each snowflake is hexagonal in shape and is uniquely distinct from each other. Each snowflake is like a work of art- so elegantly and intricately designed that it is unbelievable to acknowledge that it is real.
The humidity, temperature, air currents, and dust particles present in the air affect the appearance and size of a snowflake. Apart from the heavenly and surreal experience of the snowfall, snow is of the utmost benefit for the environment. “Snow cover has a significant effect on climate and on plant, animal, and human life. By increasing the reflection of solar radiation and interfering with the conduction of heat from the ground, it induces a cold climate. The low heat conduction protects small plants from the effects of the lowest winter temperatures; on the other hand, the late disappearance of snow in the spring delays the growth of plants. When snow melts in the spring, the resulting runoff feeds rivers and supplies water for irrigation and other human enterprises.”
Let us compare snow to artificial or man-made snow which was invented to give people a brief escape from hot temperatures and a chance to have fun experiences at ski-resorts. Over the years humans have come up with different ways to make snow artificially.
Earlier, shavings from the ice were used to produce the effects which resemble snow but the idea was dropped because the ice melted quickly. In 1934, Louis Geib, a technical director at Warner Bros. was the first person who “conjured a cold and wet blizzard on a sunny backlot in Burbank. He invented the first known snowmaking machine which consisted of three rotating blades that shaved ice from a 400-pound block and a high-powered fan that blew the resulting particles into the air”. Geib’s idea spurred the invention of snowmaking guns which can crystallize water. Snowmaking guns produce snow by forcing water and pressurized air at very high speed through a snow cannon. They are used at ski-resorts as a substitute for real snow and to let people have the same experience.
This method of producing artificial snow has been in high demand lately. The Winter Olympics of 2014 and 2018 used snowmaking guns to provide participants with the best conditions for competitions. “To start a snowmaking system a wet-bulb temperature of −2.5 °C (27.5 °F) is required. If the atmospheric humidity is very low, this level can be reached at temperatures slightly above 0 °C (32 °F), but if the air humidity is high, colder temperatures are required. Temperatures around freezing point are referred to as borderline temperatures or limit temperatures. If the wet-bulb temperature drops, more snow can be produced faster and more efficiently.” But this snowmaking technique is highly expensive and requires a lot of energy to produce a limited amount of snow.
Dr. Peter Wasilewsk, a scientist from NASA, viewed both real and artificial snow under a microscope. He found that real snow was more fluffy, light, and delicate because it has less moisture in it while the snow produced by the snowmaking machine resembled clumps of iced water packed together. The latter was denser due to the high content of water.  In short, the differences lie in overall efficacy, art, weight, and actual content. One is comprised of just small packs of ice while the other is an artefact of flakes made out of ice water.
Snowmaking plants require huge water pumps and air compressors which are very costly. So, one can imagine how difficult it is to make snow artificially. If technicians and engineers with a tremendous wealth of knowledge and ability are required to build a single snowmaking plant, can you imagine how many technicians are required to build several of them so that increased demand can be met? The snow guns are very expensive and require high voltage electricity to function. So, both money and electricity act as the source of just a single snowmaking plant.
Now that we have learned the amount of effort, knowledge, money, etc. humans put into the construction of a snowmaking plant or cannon, we can recognize that there is a maker of the snow plant, or snow gun.
Do you think that the falling of the snow from the sky is a random phenomenon?
Do you think that nature knows by itself how and when to release snow so that the seasonal change occurs on time?
Just like a snow plant has a maker and a controller who ensures its smooth functioning, is it not reasonable to say that real snow must have a Maker too?
Imagine the amount of knowledge that the Maker of real snow has who knows how much snow is needed in a certain region.
The Maker of real snow must have the Will, Wisdom, and utmost Love for all creatures because He caters to the needs of every single being on this earth. In fact, where on the one hand real snow is extremely beneficial for the environment, artificial snow causes severe damage to the ecosystem. So, does it not make you wonder how Wise and Loving the Creator of real snow is?
Elegant snowflakes speak of its Creator who is the Best of Fashioners. The fact that each snowflake out of millions of snowflakes is different from the rest yet the same in its hexagonal symmetry proves that its Creator can only be One (and not many) because the Maker of one snowflake is the Maker of all snowflakes.
In fact, each snowflake is unique like a fingerprint. It requires both immense knowledge and a perfect memory to make each snowflake different from the millions of other snowflakes. This is because in order to make each snowflake unique in its design, its Creator must remember the designs of all the snowflakes which have fallen since the beginning of time until the present day. For sure, the Maker must be the First and the Everlasting One and He should have the Will and Power to do that. Just think about it- what would it take for humanity to replicate the countless snowflakes from just one snowfall, let alone an entire year’s snowfall.
Furthermore, all the creatures upon whom the snow falls are dependent on its existence. This creates a sense of inter-dependence and inter-connectivity between the living and non-living elements of creation, proving that all creatures are created by Ever-Present One. The wise purpose manifested in the falling of the snow indicates the presence of its Maker who is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and has Absolute Wisdom.
So, the scientific facts about snow we have learned above actually leads us to its Creator- the One Almighty. The Divine Names that are manifested in snow take us a step beyond the apparent scientific facts, which is the acknowledgment of its Maker. They compel us to meditate on the hidden Divine Attributes which the snow reflects, as if the falling snow is bringing down with it a message for mankind – a message of acknowledging its Creator, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful. In short, snowfall is clearly pointing to its Maker who is All-Knowledgeable, All-Powerful, the Most Gracious, and the Most Compassionate. He is Generous and Kind enough to let its creatures experience and benefit from the surreal snowfall and that is also completely free of cost.
This brings us to the conclusion that snowfall is indeed a precious gift from God- not just for humanity but for all the creatures upon whom the snow falls. We should never take it for granted.
But have you ever wondered what does God, the Most Gracious, and the Most Merciful want in return for this precious gift?
All that He wants in return is remembrance (dhikr), thankfulness (shukr), and reflection (fikr). And why would He want us to remember Him, thank Him, or reflect on His creation? Is it to increase His praise?
Does He even need our praise?
The answer is no.
He only wants us to remember and thank Him by reflecting on the things around us so that we as humans can liberate ourselves from the worldly gods, so that we bow down to the Greatest Power of this universe, so that we can become kinder and more compassionate to our fellow creatures.
The distinct design of each snowflake teaches us to do something different and unique in life. “One small particle of dust turns into this; a work of art, each a little bit different than the next. And to think, these individual masterpieces go unnoticed by the majority. What an awesome reminder of the amazing Creator we serve. God is in the details. A beautiful object lesson He literally placed in our path.”
The white snow-covered land also acts as a reminder. It reminds us of our finite life on earth, of the white shroud we shall be wrapped in one day. The thought of death is enough to inculcate humility in us. Hence, the snow is actually helping us become more humble.
So, the next time we are wasting energy for mere fun on a ski-resort, think of the harm we are causing to the ecosystem. This way, we can refine our moral values and help this world become a better, greener place for all.
 To learn some amazing scientific facts about snowflakes, please watch these videos available on YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6zr2eLpduI
 Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Snow." Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/science/snow-weather (Accessed Nov 11, 2021).
 April White, How Artificial Snow Was Invented. (Smithsonian Magazine, Nov 2019) https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-artificial-snow-was-invented-180973334/ (Accessed Nov 11, 2021).
 Wikipedia contributors, "Snowmaking," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Snowmaking&oldid=1056589162 (Accessed Nov 15, 2021).
 Simon Naylor, Difference Between Man-made Vs Natural Snow? (New to Ski: April 27, 2020) https://newtoski.com/snowmachine-vs-natural-snow/ (Accessed Nov 26, 2021).
 Heidi Joy, Life Lessons from a Snowflake. https://www.withheidijoy.com/blog/life-lessons-from-snowflake (Accessed Nov 26, 2021)