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Biggest snowflake ever gets Google Doodle. Ever? Really?

January 28, 2012 |  9:36 am
Catching snowflakes.  None are the biggest ever.

The "biggest snowflake ever" gets a Google Doodle today, and what's surprising is that this incredible bit of information is entirely founded upon the word of one 19th century Montana rancher.

It was reportedly 15 inches in diameter and 8 inches thick. Zowie.

Guinness World Records took the word of ranch owner Matt Coleman, of Fort Keogh, Mont. He took those measurements himself in 1887 and said the snowflake was larger than "milk pans," according to USA Today.

PHOTOS: Google Doodles 2011

A milk pan, apparently, was a common item around the 1800s home, says the Illinois State Museum. The milk was poured into the pan, where it sat until the cream rose to the top. Sounds like Coleman had one.

But routine, official measurements of snowflakes are not taken, notes USA Today's Doyle Rice. So we can't be sure that Coleman's big flake was indeed the largest.

A 2-inch snowflake? Yeah, that can happen, meteorologists agree. But Coleman's big piece of snow likely wasn't just one crystal, says WGN's Chicago Weather Center. It probably was made up of many smaller crystals of snow clinging together in one big mass. As flakes fall, they can stick together, forming larger snowflakes -- which makes the speed of descent increase.

RELATED: Evolution of the Google Doodle

That means that huge hunk of snow as big as a milk pan may have plummeted into Coleman's space pretty quickly. Let's hope it didn't' hit him on the head.

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-- Amy Hubbard

Photo: Madalyn Weiler, 9, attempts to catch snowflakes on her tongue as she leaves school on Jan. 12, in LaPorte, Ind. Credit: Bob Wellinski / The LaPorte Herald-Argus / Associated Press

 

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