The largest snowflake ever observed in the world supposedly appeared 125 years ago today in Fort Keogh, Montana. A Google Doodle today prominently features a giant snowflake and leads searchers to discover more about this Guinness World record.
The Doodle features a cow grazing in snow-covered ground. Over a few seconds, the giant snowflake descends, sending birds flying to avoid being crushed, and slightly drawing the interest of the cow once the flake lands, shaking the animated logo. The snowflake become the second “o” in Google’s logo, joining a leafless tree as the “G” and a tower which substitutes for the “l”.
The world’s largest snowflake was reportedly 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick. However, this record seems to be based on the word of a ranch owner named Matt Coleman, who described the snowflake as “larger than milk pans” to the Monthly Weather Review journal – perhaps the reason the cow was included in Google’s Doodle, according to USA Today.
This record seems a bit dubious, as the National Snow & Ice Data Center notes in its FAQ on how big snowflakes can get:
“Snowflakes are agglomerates of many snow crystals. Most snowflakes are less than one-half inch across. Under certain conditions, usually requiring near-freezing temperatures, light winds, and unstable, convective atmospheric conditions, much larger and irregular flakes close to two inches across in the longest dimension can form. No routine measure of snowflake dimensions are taken, so the exact answer is not known.”
Sadly, searching the Guinness World Records website brings up no additional information about this record, as a search on the site for “snowflake” returns 1 result, but for the “rarest gorilla” named Little Snowflake.
Celebrating a record snowflake seems like the next logical step for Google, after in December adding a special Easter Egg for “let it snow” searches that has since been disabled. However, Google’s recognition of this record is reminiscent of Google celebrating the 119th anniversary of the first documented ice cream sundae, which was surprisingly controversial, considering two towns claimed to have invented the tasty dessert.
Google generally celebrates holidays and the birthdays of noteworthy figures, such as the recent Doodles for Nicolas Steno and Charles Addams. Google also recently censored its logo to protest controversial anti-piracy bills.