Weird Snow

January 16, 2018
A smile in every snowflake

It’s good to know
that the snow
is happy to see us too.

Jesse & Bekah Swope

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It snowed in the Rockies last month—two weeks early. Yes, I know the folklore: “The chill is here, near and far, in all the months that have an r.”

Still, in September I want to see colorful falling leaves, not white stuff on my driveway.

Click to expand snowfall map.
When does the first snow usually arrive in your state? Here in the West, it came two weeks early.

As I contemplated snow, I found there are many of weird facts about our winter precipitation.

For example:

  • A single snowstorm can drop 39 million tons of snow, carrying the energy equivalent to 120 atom bombs!
  • Snow comes in a variety of colors, yellow, orange, green and even purple. Actually, it’s colorless but it can 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.

Pink snow, watermelon snow, may be pretty and sweet smelling, but it frequently contains nasty algae that will make you sick. Source: Wikipedia

  • It was believed that Eskimos had dozens of words for snow. However, some linguists showed that they have the same number of root words as English. Then other linguists showed that they really did seem to have more words. Now there is a hot debate about snowy words.

    The Inuit/Eskimos 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.

  • 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”.

The largest snowflake was 15 inches in diameter! Source: Wikipedia

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 ).  Imagine shoveling stuff like that off your driveway!

If you are a skier, this early snow may be a good sign of a great winter. If you aren’t, it’s time to start stacking the firewood. Sigh!

Speaking of winter weather, the Almanac's long range forecasts are in! Pick up a copy of the 2014 edition today.


About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

Reader Comments

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I believe the quote was

I believe the quote was "bigger than milk pans" not "mild" pans. A little typo there perhaps?

Will you add me to your list please? Thank you!

OOOh! A mild and minor typing

OOOh! A mild and minor typing error. Thank you for noticing.

Gotta have your hints - tips

Gotta have your hints - tips - facts - please add me to your mailing list. Thanks

Interesting! I hope that

Interesting! I hope that everyone's weekend was both great and safe,they are having a good week and has another good weekend!

My next blog will be about

My next blog will be about last weekend, when we had tornadoes, a blizzard, a tropical storm warning and Santa Ana winds and fires. Like you, I hope everyone is safe!

Its a totally different

Its a totally different scenario on the east coast! We have a lot of warm air unusual for October. We went soaring into the upper 80s and could reach 90 tomorrow. My sister lives in Colorado and she is having snow out her way. She sent a few pictures to me of the snow coming down and I'm just sitting here thinking "Is winter really that close?" I am almost certain it will cool down in the east. Once the pattern flip flops (which it always does!) that means cold blasts and even an October nor'easter. October snows really aren't out of the ordinary. Nor'easters and snowstorms are becoming quite common for fall.

The seasons are changing. Winter is coming whether we're ready or not. Im hearing there are already many signals of a brutal winter for the lower 48.

Enjoy it while it lasts. I

Enjoy it while it lasts. I hope the leaves are pretty where you are.


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