Lake Effect Snow  Lake-effect snow in a word is magnificent.  It’s quite different from other snow.  The flakes are feathery, fluffy, and unabashedly large.  I believe this is a direct result of the amount of available moisture it draws from the lake thus creating a snow like no other. If you looked out your window yesterday morning or perhaps gazed out your windshield, you would have seen it.  It’s an all-encompassing snow, leaving nary an inch between flurries, filling the sky, and blanketing the earth rather quickly while the sun in the west peeks through the broken clouds.  Lake-effect snow can be intense, but is generally short-lived, unless you live in Northwest Indiana or Southwest Michigan – the bane, I suppose, of their winters.

There are different kinds of snow, due in large part to temperature and moisture.  Last week’s subzero temperatures produced light, dry snow.  Not the stuff you want to make a snow man with, but it’s sure easier to shovel than the good ole, moisture-rich, packing snow.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at some little known facts about the white, er, colorless stuff:

  • Snow is not white.  It’s actually colorless.  Clear.  The National Snow and Ice Data Center says “The complex structure of snow crystals results in countless tiny surfaces from which visible light is efficiently reflected. What little sunlight is absorbed by snow is absorbed uniformly over the wavelengths of visible light thus giving snow its white appearance.”  Makes perfect sense.
  • On average, the US sees 105 snow producing storms per year.  This actually sounded low to me, but many storms are large and affect many states as they pass through the country.
  • Although all snowflakes are different and unique, they do share one characteristic.  They all have 6 sides, also known as dendrites.
  • The average snowflake falls at a rate of 3.1 miles per hour.  Seems rather fast for something that is seemingly weightless.
  • The world’s largest snowflake, recorded on January 28, 1887 in Fort Keogh, MT, was 15″ wide and 8″ thick.  It knocked out a horse.
  • An inch of rain, on average, can equate to 10″ of snow.
  • Did you know there’s a Snow College?  The school resides in Utah and was founded in 1888 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Despite its name, the college does not focus on all things snow.
  • Making a paper snowflake can be as complicated as nature producing a real one.  I have real life experience to back up my claim.

Sad Snowman  “The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.”

-E.E. Cummings

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney