The Instant Snowstorm

In 1946 Vincent J. Schaefer discovered how to turn a "supercooled" cloud into a miniature snowstorm in the laboratory. In 1961 Ed Holroyd, still in high school, learned from Dr. Schaefer how to make such snow. For many decades since then Dr. Edmond W. Holroyd, III, has been repeating the demonstration, making it snow in classrooms and other locations.

The usual demonstration is designed for classroom use, particularly during 25-minute periods (with 5-minute class change breaks) at Water Festivals (such as the Aurora Youth Water Festival). Class sizes of about 25 upper elementary students are typical.

Older students and adults also appreciate this presentation that makes it snow in a classroom at any time of the year. One of my most unusual presentations was to make it snow in a kitchen freezer in Phayao (northern) Thailand for students who had never seen snow in their lives. It was then floating in front of them.

The instant snowstorms can easily be created by others, including at home, if the right equipment is available. In addition to teaching some basic cloud physics concepts, the demonstration lets the viewers actually see some of them work right in front of their eyes (and hands).

Many of the illustrations on this web site are from photographs taken by Jack Pelon, the radio station manager of Denver's KPOF (AM91) during an open house of their facilities in the "big red castle". The "instant snowstorms" were made in the basement on October 11, 2008.

sequence, equipment, clouds, vapor growth, snowstorm, crystal growth, cloud seeding history, related topics, water optics, ice optics, trouble shooting