Oh, the weather outside is…SNOW FLURRY!

What do snow, Santa and science all have in common? They can all be found at HMNS.

On Saturday, Dec. 4, Santa takes time out from his busy pre-Christmas work schedule in the North Pole to visit HMNS for Snow Flurry. And Santa won’t be coming alone! He’s bringing one of his reindeer and 80,000 pounds of snow with him!

5 things you may not know about SNOW:

1. Snowflakes take different shapes depending on the temperature at which they are formed! They can be hexagonal, needles or dendrites, among others.

2. The size of a snowflake is determined by the number of collisions it experiences in the atmosphere, and how much melting occurs on its way to the ground.

3. New York State is home to the snowiest cities in the US: Syracuse, with an average of 115 inches a year, and Rochester, with 93 inches per year. However – almost every area of the country has seen snow fall at least once, including Florida!

4. The first person to photograph a single snowflake was Wilson A. Bentley in 1885; his photographs are digitally archived online.

5. Snow flakes are not always white. When they absorb particles in the atmosphere – like coal dust – the color of the flakes reflects that composition. In the case of coal dust, the flakes would be gray.

Snow is in the forecast in Houston! Don’t miss your chance to see the greatest winter wonderland in town at Snow Flurry on Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Purchase your tickets online in advance. And, check out the video below; KHOU-TV’s Gene Norman tells us all about Snow Science!

On the Third Day of HMNS…meet Prancer!

There’s always a lot happening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science – especially during the holiday season. We’ve put together 12 ideas for fabulous family fun for you, which we’re sharing here every day until Christmas Eve. You can also check them all out now at the spiffy new 12 Days of HMNS web site.

The Third Day of HMNS has passed – but you can still meet our reindeer friend Prancer in the video below, and learn about his species in the fabulous facts under the video - as well as help us count down the 357 days until next years’ Snow Flurry!

Santa’s Reindeer Facts:

The name “reindeer” comes from a word meaning “snow-shoveler,” referring to their habit of pawing through the snow for food.

Santa’s reindeer are all female – male reindeer lose their horns every year.

Reindeer love snow so much they prefer to eat it than drink water.

You could also call them “Santa’s Caribou” – reindeer and caribou are the same species.

The impressive antlers sported by reindeer can grow up to an inch per day – making them the fastest growing tissue in the animal kingdom.

Santa got the idea for sleigh-pulling reindeer from the nomadic Saami people of northern Scandinavia – they’ve been using reindeer to pull sleighs there for over 5,000 years. 

Santa’s Reindeer are well-suited for their life at the North Pole – their sense of smell is so good that they can detect food buried three feet under the snow, and their fur is so thick that they can withstand temperatures 80 degrees below zero.

Learn more about The First Day of HMNS - the debut of The Birth of Christianity: A Jewish Story, a new special exhibition and The Second Day of HMNS – a great place to buy fun holiday gifts. And, check back daily – we’ve got 9 more days coming up, with great ideas for family fun this holiday season. You can also check them all out now, at our spiffy new 12 Days of HMNS web site – or watch them roll out here until Christmas Eve.

Snow? In Houston? Really?

On Wednesday, four days after the HMNS Snow Flurry event, it was chilly and wet outside. I was snug in my office with a mug of cocoa and a toasty warm computer monitor when I heard a ridiculous story that we were supposed to see naturally falling snow by that evening. I naturally accused the bearer of this news of hopeful invention, if not outright lying, then checked a weather website and saw indications for ‘rain or snow showers’ that evening, but still I didn’t believe we would see anything interesting. “It will all melt on the way down — it’s not even supposed to get below freezing tonight!”

But of course I was wrong and we had the first snow Houston has had this early in the season since 1944! Allison took these pictures:

So what conditions do you need to form snow? Well, if you have the right lab and a research budget, you could grow snow crystals indoors! (‘Snowflakes’ can refer to individual crystals or (often) to agglomerations or clumps of many, many snow crystals.) If you need larger quantities, you can always create your own snow like ski resorts, but you still need much colder conditions than we usually have. Most of us, however, must wait for suitable weather conditions.

Need immediate gratification? You can always resort to making decorative paper snowflakes, or try a more high-tech option.

We may not see snow again this year, but if you’re curious about who else might be getting it soon, check out this 24-hour snow forecast map. Or see if your holiday travels will bring you a White Christmas.

The Flurry was upon us!

Thousands of Houston children came to HMNS last Saturday to enjoy one of our most popular events of the year: Snow Flurry! Cookie decorating, making snow angels and visiting Santa and his reindeer were the most popular activities of the day.

Mom and Dad had fun, too, signing up for the Ho Ho Harley Davidson Giveaway where they could register to win a Christmas present of their own. 362 days until the 6th annual Snow Flurry – so while you wait, take a look at some amazing photos of the event taken by one of our festive staff members!

Snow covered the HMNS grounds at Snow Flurry.
Holiday crafts were a hit.
Little ones got their photo with Santa!

The holidays are happening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science – check out our 12 Days of HMNS web site to see sneak-peek video of everything happening here this holiday season.