In some regions, winter seems to always mean snow. Right now, several areas in states like Virginia and North Carolina are even seeing record snowfall.
Whether in a snow-covered region or not though, many folks have strong opinions about the stuff. Of course, those opinions tend to vary based on how the snow actually affects our lives. We can pretty much all agree that driving in it is rarely fun. On the other hand, when it means going skiing or getting let out of school, we typically have few complaints.
Regardless, whether you enjoy it or not, snow is a seriously fascinating weather phenomenon. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the most intriguing facts about it for your learning pleasure.
If you think all snowflakes are unique, think again. We’ve all heard that no two are alike, but that apparently isn’t true. The first identical specimens were found in 1988 by a scientist named Nancy Knight.
She was studying snow crystals at the National Center for Atmosphere Research in Boulder, Colorado when the discovery was made. The matching snowflakes came from a storm in Wisconsin.
While we may refer to it as being white, snow is actually translucent. You’ll notice that sometimes deeper snow even looks blue. That’s because the layers sometimes create a light filter that absorbs red light and reflects blue.
We often think of snowflakes as being quite small, however, that’s not always the case. The largest one ever observed was believed to be a whopping 15 inches wide by 8 inches thick. That report, however, which claims the flakes were “larger than milk pans,” dates way back to 1887 and is also unsubstantiated. On average, most snowflakes are no bigger than a penny.
To be classified as a blizzard, a snowstorm must impair visibility for at least a quarter of a mile. It must also last at least three hours and have winds in excess of 35 mph. Anything less is just a regular old snowstorm.
It’s true, the largest snowman on record wasn’t a snowman at all – it was a snow-woman. Its height measured 122 feet tall and was built in 2008 by residents of Bethel, Maine. 13 million pounds of snow were used to create the incredible snow-woman over the course of a month.
In the United States, at least 1 septillion ice crystals fall from the sky every year. That’s a lot of snowflakes!