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!

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.

VIDEO: The 12 Days of HMNS

Recently, I’ve been fascinated by a wave of expert articles in various magazines, such as Scientific American Mind, advising me how to release my inner genius – because in my line of work it helps a lot if I can be creative in generating new ideas to get the word out about what’s happening at the Museum. What I have learned is that anything can spark the creative mind – even an email from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Visit the 12 Days of HMNS web site to
look behind-the-scenes this holiday;
click each small box to explore different videos.

A few months ago, I was sent a video catalog of all Saks’ latest and greatest designer looks for fall. With “tip-toe anticipation,” as my fiancé likes to say, I browsed through the videos. I loved every moment, because I felt like I was getting an inside look, so to speak, of what was in store for me and I thought to myself, “All of this for moi?”

Then, it hit me like a space rocket out of the clear blue sky. Okay, maybe that’s a little too dramatic. But an idea came to mind, and thanks to an amazing team here at the Museum, we made it reality.

Our new 12 Days of HMNS web site (main page shown above) is designed to give you an inside look at everything in store for you this holiday season at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Click here to visit the site and access the video.

This was an exciting project from the start. My colleague, Erin, and I sat down to map out the 12 days of adventures awaiting you and yours during this wonderful time of year. Why 12 days? Believe me; we could have easily done a hundred. But, we wanted to play off of everyone’s favorite holiday medley, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

So, we packed up our video camera and explored the museum, visiting every corner – from the underground “Containment Room” where our live insects are raised and the animation studio where our Planetarium shows are created to the most secure corners of the Gem Vault and much more. We had a blast talking to curators, staff and experts from all over the Museum. And we hope you’ll enjoy this rare, behind-the-scene look, from the detailed planning that goes into bringing 80,000 pounds of snow to Houston to how a planetarium show is put together and how we care for our amazing bugs and gorgeous butterflies before putting them on display; as well as the current and upcoming special exhibitions you can see at the Museum this holiday, plus the significance behind them.

It took an entire team of people to help us put this special site together and we can’t possibly thank them enough for the time and energy they put into 12 Days of HMNS.  After viewing it, let us know what you think – and if you do visit us this holiday season. We hope to see you soon. Happy holidays!