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As we contemplated snow, we discovered some surprising facts about our winter precipitation! See how many of these cool snow facts you know.
Snow is not white! It’s translucent. The reason snow appears white is because of the light reflecting off the sides of the snowflake, diffusing the color spectrum.
Snow can also appear orange, yellow, pink, green and even purple. While technically colorless, snow may contain dust or algae that give it different colors. Orange snow fell over Siberia in 2007 and pink snow (watermelon snow) covered Krasnodar (Russia) in 2010.
Watermelon snow is common in mountains and has a sweet smell and taste. However, it frequently contains nasty algae that will make you sick so don’t eat it! Pink snow. Source: Wikipedia
A single snowstorm can drop 39 million tons of snow, carrying the energy equivalent to 120 atom bombs!
We’ve often heard that native Alaskans have many words for “snow” though linguists have now studied this and question how this is decided (getting into details such as “root words” and definitions of “snow” versus snow-like words). It seems to be a hot debate! Bottom-line, we do know that the indigenous peoples (Inupiaq) do have an extensive vocabulary for snow and ice which isn’t surprising given their year-round natural environment!
The native Alaskans should get together with snowboarders. Skiers are always using different words, such as “pow pow,” “mashed potatoes,” “champagne snow (powder),” “cauliflower,” “sticky snow,” “dust on crust” to describe the snow.
Snowflakes can get huge! According to Guinness World Records, the largest snowflakes on record were 15 inches (38 cm) in diameter and 8 inches thick. They fell on Fort Keogh, in eastern Montana on 28 January 1887. Nearby ranchers described the flakes as “larger than mild pans” and measured them; “8 inches thick”.
Google celebrated the 125th anniversary of the event with one of its doodles – an animated cartoon of a really big flake. (If you want to see it, it’s at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPc9d8epH3w ). Imagine shoveling stuff like that off your driveway!
“Fear of Snow” is a thing. It’s called “chionophobia” which comes from ‘chion,’ the Greek word for snow. In case you wondering what’s so scary, imagine being caught in an avalanche or buried under snow; for some people, it’s similar to fear of water.
About 90% of snow is air. Snow is a great insulator and keeps us warm. Snow is almost all air so it’s used for hibernation by many animals. Did you know igloos can be 100 degrees warmer inside? If you’re ever stuck in the snow, build a snow cave!
Snow is good for the garden. Think of snow as nature’s mulch. provides needed moisture as well as nutrients. Nitrogen attaches to snowflakes as the snow falls through the atmosphere. That’s why The Old Farmer’s Almanac calls snow a “poor man’s fertilizer.” Learn more about the benefits of snow.
Snowflakes seem to flutter slowly but they can also fall very quickly in wintery conditions. How fast? Up to 9 mph!
No two snowflakes are alike, Or, let’s just say that the likelihood in nature (not a scientific lab) is very minute. There are many of many molecules plus each snowflake follows a different path through the atmosphere. Learn more about snowflake shapes.
If you are a skier, snow may be good sign of a great winter. If you aren’t, it’s time to start stacking the firewood. Sigh!