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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Positively Snow Facts

by Mauverneen

Snow Perfection

March 23rd. 8:30 a.m. My phone rings.

‘Isn’t it beautiful?’’ gushes the too perky voice of my aunt.

Expecting to find sunshine and warm temps I pull back the curtains to see…. SNOW! Lots of it. Blowing, thick and accumulating.   

No wonder I slept late – my subconscious knew I wouldn’t want to get up.
A recent snowfall - Pilcher Park, Joliet, IL

But it was beautiful, even if I was sick of it.

The first snow of the year is an event. A couple of snow days, exciting. For Christmas it’s pretty much expected, even required. Beyond that it gets old fast. Unless you’re a snow plow driver. $$$.

It’s been a long cold winter for a lot of folks. Mother Nature has been teasing us with some warm temperatures and sunny skies recently but she’s not quite ready to give Old Man Winter the boot.

Even the birds thought Spring was here
The North East had it pretty bad this winter but consider this: The most snow to fall in a 24-hour period in the U.S. is 75.8 inches, when over six feet of snow fell April 14 - 15 at Silver Lake, Colorado in 1921.  Colorado also holds the record for the most snow to fall in a single calendar day. On December 4, 1913, 63 inches of snow fell on Georgetown, Colorado.

Snow like that doesn't melt until August and by that time, up in the mountains, it's time to start snowing again. Of course as tourists, it's fun to get our pictures taken in July or August with some of that snow.

Measuring the snow depth in July - Washington state

In the Sierra Nevada the average annual snowfall is 179 inches. No surprise the Donner Party got stranded. 
View of Donner Lake. At the far end is where the Donner Party spent that ill-fated Winter

Valdez, Alaska has an annual snowfall of 326 inches. You expect that in Alaska, right? But the Paradise Ranger Station on Mt. Rainier in Washington state averages 659 inches yearly, with a record 1122 inches recorded there in the winter of 1971-72. That world record was broken in 1998-99 at Mt. Baker Lodge with 1140 inches in that season. That’s 95 feet!

It’s fun to watch big, fluffy flakes floating downward but have you ever seen a 15’’ snowflake? In January, 1887 at Montana’s Fort Keogh witnesses said the flakes were “larger than milk pans” and 8’’ thick. Other than personal accounts no official records exist. There are an assortment of credible reports though of flakes between 2 and 6’’ in different parts of the world.

If you are ever stranded in lots and lots of snow – build yourself an igloo! Igloos can be more than 100 degrees warmer inside than outside, warmed entirely by body heat. Since fresh, compacted snow is approximately 90 to 95 percent trapped air (meaning it can’t move and transfer heat) it’s a great insulator! Many animals, such as bears, hibernate through the winter by  digging deep holes in the snow.

A view of the snow-covered Alps
And that folks is your snow facts for today. Beautiful as it can be I sure do hope we’ve seen the last of it for a while. I'm sure it will look better to all of us come December!

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