We sure have had a lot of snow in Wonderopolis lately, and we've been having lots of fun, too. When the winter white stuff comes down, we like to go sledding, make snow ice cream, and play hockey with our friends. We also like to go ice skating and build snowmen. And with all the snow we've had, we've made a LOT of snowmen. In fact, the current snowman population in Wonderopolis is approximately 24,387!
So, while it is getting a little crowded in Wonderopolis, we're not worried. When the weather warms up, the snowmen numbers will dwindle. What do we mean? Read on to learn where they go…
Snow, which is a frozen (solid) form of water, melts when it gets warmer than 32º F. When the Sun shines and warms the Earth, snow begins to melt and turn into runoff. Runoff can seep into the ground, where it's used to help plants grow.
If the ground is already saturated (has enough water), the runoff will run off (get it?) into lakes, streams, rivers, and other bodies of water. When it turns into a liquid as runoff, snow begins its trip through the water cycle.
The water cycle is the series of steps water moves through as it travels from land and bodies of water into the atmosphere and eventually back to land and bodies of water. The three steps of the water cycle are evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.
The Sun gets things moving by heating water on land and bodies of water, causing it to change to a gas called water vapor in a process called evaporation. As vapor, the water rises high into the atmosphere, where it cools and forms clouds in a process called condensation.
When clouds get too saturated with water, the water falls back to Earth in a process called precipitation. Depending upon the temperature, the water can hit Earth as rain, snow, or ice. Once it's back on Earth, guess what? The whole process starts over. That's why it's called the water CYCLE. It just keeps going on over and over again!