Depending on who you are, the thought of winter either fills your mind with all the joy of the Christmas season, or the dread of driving on the icy roads. No matter what your feeling may be about winter, for some states the inevitability of snow confronts us yearly. Whether you will hibernate in a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate for the winter months, or find yourself barreling down a mountain, here are 6 interesting facts about snow to impress your friends with:
- Snow is just snow… Right?
Ski and snowboard beginners will be the first to tell you when they get a face full of snow that every snow and flake is different. According to EpicSki, snow has at least 165 names. A quick glance through the list will warrant at least a chuckle or two: For example, “Walrus Snot,” “Virgin Powder,” “Sloppy Seconds,” and “Screaming Lobster.” To the untrained eye, snow is just snow, but maybe the Eskimos were on to something by making 50 official word variations for snow in their language.
- Size matters
Cold climate residents hardly run screaming in fear when snow starts to fall because of its miniscule size. However, if every flake were the size of the Guinness world record holder for largest flake, then the winter may be the cause of panic. The largest recorded snowflake fell at Fort Keogh in Montana. The flake went down in the books as 15 inches in diameter in the year 1887.
- Well, that’s a flake of a different color!
Contrary to what your eyes may tell you, snow actually is a colorless substance. Snow appears white to the eyes because of the number of angles in its structure that reflect light. Since snowflakes are colorless, as the snow falls other substances combine with the flakes and change their color. In fact, some strains of algae grow on snow and ice, giving them colors ranging from red and orange to green and purple.
- Atomic Snowstorm
In 1888, New Jersey and surrounding states experienced a snowstorm with 20 to 60 inches of snow and 50 foot snow drifts. A severe snowstorm can drop as much as 39 million tons of snow: the equivalent of 120 atomic bombs.
- White snow bringing the blues?
Once diagnosed as the “winter blues,” seasonal affective disorder (SAD) now effects 2-10% of Americans today. SAD is a type of depression that saps energy and negatively affects mood. The disorder can begin in the late fall and continue through the entire winter. The Mayo Clinic has determined that SAD is caused by changes in serotonin and melatonin levels. Many people believe the change in chemical levels results from less sunlight.
- Mountain spring water anyone?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, less than 1% of fresh water on the earth is located in lakes and rivers. So where is the world’s fresh water located? Roughly 70% of all fresh water is frozen in polar ice caps and glaciers. As the winter slowly fades away in the upcoming months, don’t be sad that old Frosty is melting, because the ice and snow melt ensures water to drink and a beautiful spring.